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Full text of "The joys of being a woman, and other papers"

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at jhttp : //books . qooqle . com/ 



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THE JOYS OF BEING A WOMAN. 
THE OLD DILLER PLACE. Illustrated. 
THE BOY-EDITOR. Illustrated. 
THE HOME-COMERS. Illustrated. 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 
Boston and Nbw York 



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Th* J°y s °f Being a Woman 



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The 
Joys of Being a Woman 



AND OTHER PAPERS 



BV 

WINIFRED KIRKLAND 
U 




BOSTON & NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

Cte SMteMftr 9mw CmMHi 

I918 



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COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY WINIFRED KIRKLAND 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

Published August 1918 






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FOREWORD 

The Ego in the Essay 

We are each launched in life with an elfin 
shipmate — set jogging upon earth beside a 
fairy comrade. When our ears are clear, he 
pipes magic music; when our feet are free 
he pleads with us to follow him on witching 
paths. We cannot often hear, we cannot often 
follow, but when we do, we know him for 
what he is; when we sail or run or fly with 
him, we know him for the gladdest fellow with 
whom life ever paired us, a companion rarely 
glimpsed, but glorious, for he is our own true 
Self. Poets and dreamers have sometimes 
snared him in a sonnet, but for the most part, 
for his waggishness and his wanderings, he 
demands, not the strait-jacketing of poetry, 
but the flexible garment of prose. It is the 
shifting subtleties of the essay that have ever 
best expressed him. 

One man there was in that peopled past, 
where friendship's best doors fly open at our 
knock, who knew how to catch his elusive 
Ego and keep it glad even on ways that led 

v 



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Foreword 

through sordid counting-house and sadder 
madhouse; and who knew also, better than 
any one since has ever known, how to envisage 
and investure that exquisite Self of his, sweet, 
quaint sprite that it was, in an essay. Ever 
since that time those of us who love essays 
say, of one possessing special grace, it is like 
Elia's, meaning not that it imitates Lamb's 
style, the inimitable, but that it reveals, as 
only the essay can do, personality. 

Of all literary forms the personal essay ap- 
pears the most artless, a little boat that sails 
us into pleasant havens, without any sound 
of machinery and without any chart or com- 
pass. To read is as if we overheard some one 
chatting with that little merry-heart, his own 
particular Ego. We do not stop to think what 
childlike simplicities any grown-up must at- 
tain before he can hear that fairy divinity, 
his own Self, speak at all, for the only true 
tongue in which the Self speaks is joy. Only 
childlike feet can follow the feet of fairies. The 
self-annalist whose essays warm our hearts 
with friendship, must be one who sips the 
wine of mirth when all alone with his own 
Self. Not many such are born, and fewer of 
them write essays. The essay is no easy thing. 
The true mood and the true manner of it are 
rare. It is as difficult to write an essay on 
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Foreword 

purpose as it is to be a person on purpose, a 
teasing game and unsatisfactory. 

Yet the difficulties of essay-writing are 
offset by the delights: for there is nothing so 
compelling to expression as chuckle, and that 
is what the true essay is, sheer chuckle; it is 
what we felt and saw that time the elfin Ego 
floated in on a sun-mote, and showed us, 
laughing, how all our life is gilded with fun. 
Then off we fly to write it, with the spell still 
upon us! The poising of a word on the tip of 
our pen until the very most genial sunbeam of 
all shall touch it, the weaving the thread of a 
golden thought in and out through all the 
quips and nonsense, the wrapping a whole 
life experience in the hollow shaft of some 
light-barbed phrase! The best quality of the 
humorous essay is that the reader shall smile, 
not laugh, and, moreover, that he shall re- 
member no one passage at which he smiles: 
it is far better that he should feel that he 
has touched a personality tipped with mirth. 
Ariel never laughed. The fun that makes the 
soul expand must have in it the lift of wings 
and the glimpsing fantasy of flight. 

More than any other of the shapes prose 
takes, the essay should give the reader a sense 
of good-fellowship. Probably the writer who 
as an actual man is shyest, gives this com- 

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Foreword 

radeship best. The shy man sheds forth his 
personality most opulently in print, and pref- 
erably, as certain wise editors have perceived, 
in anonymous print. One is sensitive to hav- 
ing an everyday friend see one's soul in pub- 
lic, because the everyday friend knows too 
well the everyday self, to which the elusive 
essay-self is too often a stranger. 

That skittish elfin Ego, so alien to the hum- 
drum man or woman who bears our mortal 
name, if he only came to visit us oftener, 
stayed with us longer, what essays we might 
write! A snatch of song, a tinkle of laughter, 
a flutter of wings, if he would only linger un- 
til I could clearly see what he is, this Ego of 
mine, who tells such happy secrets! Poor 
babykin, poor fairykin — that Ego sent forth 
with us to make blithe the voyage, we cannot 
go a-dancing with him out to fairy fields, be- 
cause our feet are heavy with Other People's 
clogs and fetters, we cannot hear when he 
would whisper at our ear gentle philosophies 
— our own Self s and no one's else, because 
of the grave grubby Book-people who thunder 
at us from our shelves. Sometimes I catch 
him casting a waggish twinkle at me over the 
very shoulder of my blackest worry, rainbow 
wings and head that is devil-may-care trying 
to get at me from behind her sable-stoled form, 
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Foreword 

Even in the thought of death I catch his 
cherub chuckle, "Could a grave hold me?" 
For is not death also a bugbear of Other Peo- 
ple, not at all of my own Self's making? 

Gay little voyager! He seems, when he vis- 
its me, to be the prince of the kingdom of fun. 
He does not stay long, but long enough some- 
times for me to write an essay. But whence 
he comes, or whither he goes, or what he is, 
whether demonic or divine, I only know that 
he is mine. 



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CONTENTS 



Foreword: The Ego in the Essay 
I. The Joys of Being a Woman 
II. A Man in the House 

III. Old-Clothes Sensations . 

IV. Luggage and the Lady . 
V. Detached Thoughts on Boarding 

VI. The Lady Alone at Night . 
VII. In Sickness and in Health . 
VIII. An Educational Fantasy 

IX. My Clothes 

X. The Tendency to Testify . 
XL Letters and Letter-Writers 
XII. The Tyranny of Talent 

XIII. The Woman Who Writes 

XIV. Picnic Pictures . 

XV. The Farm Feminine . 

XVI. A Little Girl and Her 
mother .... 

XVII. The Wayfaring Woman 

XVIII. The Road That Talked 



Grand- 



V 

I 

23 
29 

35 
49 
62 
68 

75 

87 

107 

»3 
124 

129 

154 
171 

183 

194 
205 



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Contents 

XIX. My Mother's Gardeners . . 214 

XX. My Little Town 227 

XXI. Genus Clericum 244 

XXII. Some Difficulties in Doing with- 
out Eternity 264 



Note. — Several of these essays have appeared in 
The Atlantic Monthly, The North American 
Review, The Unpopular Review, and The 
Churchman, and are here reprinted with the kind 
permission of the editors of those magazines. 



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The Joys of Being a Woman 



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I 

The Joys of Being a Woman 

SOME years ago there appeared in the 
"Atlantic" an essay entitled "The Joys 
of Being a Negro." With a purpose analogous 
to that of the author, I am moved to declare 
the real delights of the apparently down- 
trodden, and in the face of a bulky literature 
expressive of pathos and protest, to confess 
frankly the joys of being a woman. It is a 
feminist argument accepted as axiomatic that 
every woman would be a man if she could be, 
while no man would be a woman if he could 
help it. Every woman knows this is not fact 
but falsehood, yet knows also that it is one of 
those falsehoods on which depends the sta- 
bility of the universe. The idea that every 
woman is desirous of becoming a man is as 
comforting to every male as its larger corol- 
lary is alarming, namely, that women as a 
mass have resolved to become men. The for- 
mer notion expresses man's view of feminin- 
ity, and is flattering; the latter expresses his 
view of feminism, and is fearsome. Man's 
panic, indeed, before the hosts he thinks he 

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The Joys of Being a Woman 

sees advancing, has lately become so acute 
that there is danger of his paralysis. Now his 
paralysis would defeat not only the purposes 
of feminism, but also the sole purpose of 
woman's conduct toward man from Eve's 
time to ours, a course of which feminism is 
only a modern and consistent example. 

It is for man's reassurance that I shall en- 
deavor gradually to unfold this age-old pur- 
pose, showing that while the privileges which 
through slow evolution we have amassed are 
so enjoyable as to preclude our envying any 
man his dusty difficulties, still our attitude 
toward these our toys is that of a friend of 
mine, a woman, aged four. Left unprotected 
in her hands for entertainment, a male coeval 
was heard to burst into cries of rage. Her 
parents, rushing to his rescue, found their 
daughter surrounded by all the playthings, 
which she loftily withheld from her visitor's 
hand. Rebuke produced the virtuous re- 
sponse, "I am only trying to teach .Bobby to 
be unselfish." 

The austere moral intention of my little 
friend was her direct heritage from her mother 
Eve, whose much maligning would be regret- 
table if this very maligning were not the 
primary purpose of the artful allegory: Adam 
and all his sons had to believe that they 

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Th* J°y s °J Being a Woman 

amounted to more than Eve, as the primary 
condition of their amounting to anything. 
Eve, in her campaign for Adam's education, 
was the first woman to perceive his need for 
complacency, and so, from Eden to eternity, 
she undertook to immolate her reputation for 
his sake. Eve, I repeat, was the first woman 
to perceive Adam's fundamental need, but 
she was not the last. 

The romance of Adam and Eve was written 
by so subtle a psychologist that I feel sure the 
novelist must have been a woman. Her death- 
less allegory of Eden contains the whole sit- 
uation of the sexes: it shows the superiority 
of woman, while seeming, for his own good, 
to show the superiority of man. As it must 
have required a woman to write the par- 
able, so perhaps it requires a woman to ex- 
pound it. 

I pass over the initial fact that the repre- 
sentation of Eve as the last in an ascending 
order of creation, plainly signifies that she is 
to be considered the most nearly, if not the 
absolutely, perfect, of created things. The 
first thing of real impbrtance in the narrative 
is the purpose of Eve's creation, to fill a need, 
Adam's. "It was not good that the man 
should be alone." The whole universe was 
not enough for Adam without Eve. It neither 

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The Joys of Being a Woman 

satisfied nor stimulated him. He was mopish, 
dumpish, unconscionably lazy. If he had been 
merely lonely, why would it not have been 
enough to create another Adam? Because the 
object was not simple addition, whereby an- 
other Adam would merely have meant two 
Adams, both mopish, dumpish, unconscion- 
ably lazy; the object was multiplication by 
stimulation, whereby, by combining Eve with 
Adam, Adam, as all subsequent history shows, 
was raised to the nth power. 

Intimately analyzed, the details of the 
temptation redound entirely to Eve's credit. 
Woman rather than man is selected as the one 
more open to argument, more capable of ini- 
tiative, the one bolder to act, as well as braver 
to accept the consequences of action. The 
sixth verse of the third chapter cuts away for- 
ever all claim for masculine originality, and 
ascribes initiative in the three departments 
of human endeavor to woman. For no one 
knows how long, Adam had been bumping 
into that tree without once seeing that it was: 
(a) "good for food"; this symbolizes the 
awakening of the practical instincts, the 
availing one's self of one's physical surround- 
ings, the germ, clearly, of all commercial ac- 
tivity, in which sphere man has always been 
judged the more active; (b) "the tree was 
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The Joys of Being a Woman 

pleasant to look upon"; here it is Eve, not 
Adam, who perceives the aesthetic aspect; if 
man has been adjudged the more eminent in 
art, plainly he did not even see that a thing 
was beautiful until woman told him so; (c) "a 
tree to be desired to make one wise"; Adam 
had no desire to be wise until Eve stimulated 
it, whereas her own desire for knowledge was 
so passionate that she was ready to die to 
attain it. We all know how Eve's motives 
have been impugned, for when a man is ready 
to die for knowledge, he is called scientific, 
but when a woman is ready to die for knowl- 
edge, she is called inquisitive. The Eden nar- 
rative concludes with the penalty, "He shall 
rule over thee," that is, the price Eve must 
pay for Adam's seeming superiority is her 
own seeming inferiority. The risk and the 
responsibility and the recompense for man's 
growing pains, woman has always taken in 
inscrutable silence, wise to see that she would 
defeat her own ends if she explained. 

"And what was my reward when they had won — 
Freedom that I had bought with torturing bonds? 
— They stormed through centuries brandishing their 

deeds, 
Boasting their gross and transient mastery 
To girls, who listened with indulgent ears \ 
And laughing hearts — Lord, they were ever blind— 
Women have they known, but never Woman." 

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The Joys of Being a Woman 

The methods and the motives of Eve to- 
ward Adam have been the methods and the 
tnotives of woman with man ever since. Eve's 
purposes, summarized, are fourfold: first, she 
must educate Adam; second, she must conceal 
his education from him, as the only practical 
way of developing in man the self-esteem 
necessary to keep him in his sex; third, Eve 
must never bore Adam, to keep him going she 
must always keep him guessing; and fourth, 
Eve must not bore herself; this last view of 
the temptation is perhaps the truest, namely, 
that Eve herself was so bored by the inertness 
of Adam and the ennui of Eden that she had 
to give him the apple to see what he and she 
would do afterwards. 

The imperishable philosophy of the third 
chapter of Genesis clearly establishes the 
primary joy of being a woman, the joy of con- 
scious superiority. That it is the most pro- 
found joy known to human nature will be 
readily attested by any man who has felt his 
own sense of superiority shaking in its shoes 
as he has viewed the recent much-advertised 
achievements of women. How could any man 
help envying a woman a self-approval so ab- 
solute that it can afford to let man seem su- 
perior at her expense? 
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The Joys of Being a Woman 

Woman's conviction of advantage supports 
her in using her prerogatives first as if they 
were deficiencies, and then in employing them 
to offset man's deficiencies. Man is a timor- 
ous, self-distrustful creature, who would never 
have discovered his powers if not stimulated 
by woman's weakness. Probably prehistoric 
woman voluntarily gave up her own muscle in 
order that man might develop his by serving 
her. It is only recently that we have dared to 
be as athletic as we might, and the effort is 
still tentative enough to be relinquished if we 
notice any resulting deterioration, muscular 
or moral, in men. Women, conscious how 
they hold men's welfare in their hands, simply 
do not dare to discover how strong they might 
be if they tried, because they have so far used 
their physical weakness not only as a means 
of arousing men's good activities, but also as 
a means of turning to nobler directions their 
bad ones. Men are naturally acquisitive, im- 
pelled to work for gain and gold, gain and 
more gain, gold and more gold. Unable to de- 
ter them from this impulse, we turn it to an 
unselfish end, that is, we let men support us, 
preserving for their sakes the fiction that we 
are too frail to support ourselves. If they had 
neither child nor wife, men would still be roll- 
ing up wealth, but it is very much better for 

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The Joys of Being a Woman 

their characters that they should suppose they 
are working for their families rather than for 
themselves. We might be Amazons, but for 
men's own sakes we refrain from what would 
be for ourselves a selfish indulgence in vigor. 
Man is not only naturally acquisitive but 
is naturally ostentatious of his acquisitions. 
Having bled for his baubles, he wishes to put 
them on and strut in them. Again we step" in 
and redirect his impulse; we put on his bau- 
bles and strut for him. We let him think that 
our delicate physique is better fitted for jewels 
and silk than his sturdier frame, and that our 
complex service to the Society which must be 
established to show off his jewels and* silk, is 
really a lighter task than his simple slavery to 
an office desk. How reluctantly men have 
delegated to women dress and all its concom- 
itant luxury may readily be proved by an ex- 
amination of historic portraits — behold Ral- 
eigh in all his ruffles! — and by the tendency 
to top-hat and tin-can decoration exhibited by 
the male savage. The passionate attention 
given by our own household males to those few 
articles of apparel in which we have thought 
it safe to allow them individual choice, unreg- 
ulated by requirements of uniform, articles 
such as socks or cravats, must prove even to 
men themselves how much safer it is that their 
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The Joys of Being a Woman 

clothes-craze should be vicariously expressed, 
that women should do their dressing for them. 

Not only for the moral advantages gained 
by men in supporting us do women preserve 
the fallacy of physical feebleness, but also for 
the spiritual exaltation men may enjoy by 
protecting us and rescuing us from perils. For 
this purpose it is quite unnecessary that the 
man should think the peril real, but it is ab- 
solutely necessary that he should think the 
woman thinks it real. It does a man more good 
to save a woman from a mouse than from a 
tiger, as contributing more to the sense of 
superiority so necessary to him. The truth is 
that women are not really afraid of anything, 
but they perceive how much splendid incen- 
tive would be lost to the world if they did not 
pretend to be. For example, if women were 
actually afraid of serpents, would the Tempter 
have chosen that form just when he wished to 
be most ingratiating? But think how many 
heroes would be unmade if women should let 
men know that they are perfectly capable of 
killing their own snakes. The universality 
of the mouse fear proves its prehistoric origin, 
showing how consistently and successfully 
women have been educating men in heroism; 
in earliest times it probably required a whole 

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The Joys of Being a Woman 

dinotherium ramping at the cave-mouth to 
induce primitive man to draw weapon in his 
mate's defense, but now to evoke the quin- 
tessence of chivalry, all a woman has to do is 
to hop on a chair at sight of a mouse. 

Woman's motive for suppressing her intel- 
lectual powers is exactly the same as her mo- 
tive for not developing her physical powers. 
She is ready to enjoy and to employ her own 
genius in secret for the sake of the free and 
open growth of man's. She has wrought so 
conscientiously to this end that it is probable 
that the average man's belief in woman's men- 
tal inferiority is even stronger than his belief 
in her physical inferiority, for well woman has 
perceived the peril to man of his ever dis- 
covering the truth of her intellectual endow- 
ment. Man's energy cannot survive the strain 
of thinking his brain inferior, or even equal, 
to a woman's. This fact is the reason why 
women so long renounced all educational ad- 
vantages; that at last their minds were too 
much for them, and that they were driven by 
pure ebullience of suppressed genius to invade 
the university, will more and more be seen 
by women to have been a regrettable mis- 
take. There is much current newspaper dis- 
cussion of the failure of the men's colleges 
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Th* J°y s °f Being a Woman 

to-day to educate the young male, his utter 
obduracy before stimulus is despairingly com- 
pared with the effect of college upon the youth 
of past generations. I fear that the reason is 
simple to seek: men's colleges have deteri- 
orated exactly in the ratio that women's col- 
leges have improved. The course for women 
and women's colleges is therefore clear. 

Our history shows that we have, with only 
occasional lapses into genius, nobly sustained 
the requirements of our unselfishness. On 
rare occasions our ability has been so irresist- 
ible, and our honesty so irrepressible, that in 
an unguarded moment we have tossed off a 
Queen Elizabeth, a Rosa Bonheur, a Madame 
Curie, a Joan of Arc, a Hetty Green; but for 
the most part we have preserved a glorious 
mediocrity that allows man to believe himself 
dominant in administration, art, science, war, 
and finance. The women who have so far for- 
gotten themselves as almost to betray wom- 
an's genius to the world, are fortunately for 
the moral purpose of the sex, exceptional, and 
the average woman makes a very creditable 
concealment of intellect. I am hopeful that 
as women grow in wisdom, their outbreaks of 
ability will be more and more controlled and 
sporadic, and man's paralysis before them be 
correspondingly infrequent, so that at some 

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The Joys of Being a Woman 

future day, we may see woman again relin- 
quish all educational privileges, and become 
wisely illiterate for man's sake. 

Our own intellectual advantages are as 
much greater than man's as they are more 
secret. No woman would put up with the 
clumsiness and crudity of a man's brain, 
knowing so well the superexcellence of her 
own, in the delicacy of its machinery, the 
subtle science required in its employment, the 
absorbing interest of the material on which it 
is employed, and the noble purpose to which 
it is solely devoted. 

As to our mental mechanism, it is so much 
finer than man's that, out of pure pity for his 
clogging equipment, we let him think logic 
and reason better means of traveling from 
premise to conclusion than the air flights we 
encourage him to scorn as woman's intuition. 
Nothing is more painful to a woman than an 
argument with a man, because he journeys 
from given fact to deduced truth by pack- 
mule, and she by aeroplane. When he finds 
her at the destination, he is so irritated by 
the swiftness of her passage that he accuses 
her of not having followed the right direction, 
and demands as proof that she describe the 
weeds by the roadside, which he has amply 
studied, — he calls this study his reasoning 

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The Joys of Being a Woman 

process. Of course no woman stops to bot- 
anize when the object is to get there. No man 
ever wants to be a woman? No man ever 
longs to exchange his ass for our airship? No 
man ever envies us the nimbleness by which 
we can elude logic and get at truth? 

Our mental operations are keyed to the 
very sublimation of delicacy and rapidity, 
and they need to be, considering the sub- 
tleties of the skill with which we must em- 
ploy them. Eve left it to us to educate Adam 
without his knowing it, and to keep him end- 
lessly entertained. To educate, to amuse, 
and forever, calls for such exquisite manipu- 
lation of our own minds, calls for such indi- 
vidual initiative, such originality, as to pro- 
vide woman with an aspiration that makes 
man's creative concern with such gross mat- 
ters as art or letters, science or government, 
seem puerile and pitiable. What skill do the 
tasks of man, so stupidly tangible and pub- 
lic, evoke? How stimulating to be a woman! 
How dull to amble along like a man, with only 
logic to carry you, and only success to attain! 

Poor man is to be pitied not only for the 
crudity of his mental machinery and the 
creaking clumsiness of its movement, but for 
the dullness of the material in which he must 

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The J°y s °f Being a Woman 

work. The truth is that there would be no sex 
to do the unskilled labor of the world, if 
women ever once let men be tempted by their 
superior employments. The surest way of 
keeping man to his hod-carrying is to let him 
think that woman spends all her secret hours 
sobbing for bricks and mortar. As a child 
must respect his toys if he is to be happy, so 
a man must respect the material he works in, 
and thus women foster his pride in making 
books, pictures, machines, states, philoso- 
phies, while women — make him ! The sub- 
ject to which we devote all our heads is man 
himself. 

" Mine to protect, to nurture, to impel; 
My lord and lover, yes, but first my child. 
Man remains Man, but Woman is the Mother, 
There is no mystery she dare not read; 
No fearful fruit can grow, but she must taste; 
No secret knowledge can be held from her; 
For she must learn all things that she may teach." 

Our material, human, living, plastic, is im- 
measurably more marvelous than man's cold 
stone, cold laws, cold print. Unlike man's, 
therefore, our work can never be finished, can 
not be qualified and made finite by any stand- 
ard of perfection. It is more fun to make a 
Plato than to make his philosophy, and at 
the same time to be skillful enough to con- 
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Th* J°y s °f Being a Woman 

ceal our creatorship, knowing that the condi- 
tion of producing another and greater Plato 
is to let him have the inflation of supposing 
he produced himself. Now unless woman's 
efforts through all the ages to instill into man 
the self-satisfaction necessary to his success 
have gone for naught — which I cannot from 
observation believe — man could hardly help 
envying woman the splendor and the scope 
of the subject to which her intelligence is di- 
rected, to wit, himself. 

The ultimate purpose of woman's educa- 
tion of man transcends the grosser aims to 
which man's intellect is devoted. Woman 
wants man to be good, so that he may be 
happy. He was not happy in Eden, and so 
she drove him out of it. Woman's education 
of man she has for the most part succeeded in 
hiding from him, but the object of that educa- 
tion, man's happiness, has been so permeat- 
ing that even man himself has perceived it. 
Man thinks he can manufacture his own 
career, his own money, his own clothes, and 
his own food, but no man thinks he can make 
his own happiness. Every man thinks either 
that some actual woman makes or unmakes 
his joy, or that some potential woman could 
make it. For a woman, love's young dream 

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The Joys of Being a Woman 

is of making some man happy; for a man, 
love's young dream is of letting some woman 
make him happy. These views plainly argue 
that in relation to the supply of gladness, 
woman is the almoner, man the beggar. 
Since every one would rather be a giver than 
a getter, it seems impossible that no man ever 
wants to be a woman, in order to experience 
the most indisputable of her joys, the joy of 
dispensing joy. 

Reasons, however, why men should want 
to be women are more numerous and more 
cogent than it would be safe to let men know, 
so I am cannily concealing many. Among 
the few it may not be impolitic to divulge, is 
one that of course any man who reads has 
seen for himself. While we shall continue 
conscientiously devoted to our pedagogical 
duties, we have pretty well determined Adam's 
limitations, and need only apply to him a 
pretty well established curriculum, whereas 
we ourselves remain an undeveloped mystery 
that more and more attracts our imagina- 
tion. Looking far into the future one may see 
man finished and fossilized, when woman is 
still at the stage of eohippus as 

" On five toes he scampered 
Over Tertiary rocks." 
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^&* J°y s °f Being a Woman 

Even now women, looking far out to space, 
sometimes, echo the glee of little eohippus: — 

" I am going to be a horse! 
And on my middle finger nails 

To run my earthly course! 
I 'm going to have a flowing tail! 

I 'm going to have a mane! 
I 'm going to stand fourteen hands high 

On the psychozoic plain! " 

Now if any man, clearly perceiving his 
own possibilities, must envy woman the joy 
of having him for an experiment, how could 
the same man, if he should as clearly per- 
ceive woman's greater possibilities, help en- 
vying woman the joy of having herself for 
experiment? 

With this paragraph I have plumply ar- 
rived at feminism, and at the object of all 
my revelations, namely, to reassure men by 
stating that women do not intend to take 
themselves up as a serious experiment for 
ten thousand years or so; we shall not feel 
free to do so until we have taught Bobby to 
be unselfish enough to let us; he is not yet 
strong enough to try his own wings, much 
less strong enough to let us try ours. To allay 
man's fears, it may be well to elucidate some 
aspects of our actions. 

While there may be a little of eohippus 

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The J°y s °f Being a Woman 

exaltation in feminism, it is so little as to be 
negligible; our main purpose is still our age- 
old business of teaching by indirection. There 
are recurrent occasions when Adam grows 
sluggish in his Eden, and women have to con- 
trive new spurs both for his action and his 
appreciation. As whips to make a lethargic 
Adam move where he should move, Eve is 
brandishing two threats, one her economic 
independence, the other, her Use of the ballot. 
Adam thinks she really means to have both. 
Now our threatening to march from The 
Home and invade business, and by that ac- 
tion to let business invade The Home, is very 
simply explained. Once again our purpose 
is unselfish: it gives Adam false notions of 
economic justice to form a habit of not pay- 
ing for services rendered, so Eve conquers her 
shyness and pretends that she will leave The 
Home if he does not pay her some scanty 
shillings to stay in it. Even the dullest man 
has now become convinced that women can 
earn money, so that we hope that in time even 
the most penurious husband will perceive the 
wisdom of giving his wife an allowance, and 
that *s all we Ve been after; and yet we have 
to make all this fuss to get it. If Adam were 
only a little easier to move, he would save us 
and himself a great deal of pushing. 
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The Joys of Being a Woman 

Our suffrage agitation is as simple as our 
economic one. We mean only to wake you 
to the use of the ballot in your hands, when 
we ask you to give it to our hands. Already 
we have aroused you to two facts: if politics 
is too soiled a spot for your women to enter, 
then it is too soiled a spot for our men to 
enter, and therefore it is high time you did a 
little scrubbing; and also that if you refuse 
to enlarge the suffrage to admit desirable 
women, it is high time to consent to restrict 
it so as not to admit undesirable men. Again 
this is all we have been after, but again we 
have had to make a great deal of noise in 
order to wake you up. 

But feminism to the male mind suggests 
not only commercial and professional and 
political careers for women, but something 
less tangible and more terrible, the advent 
of a bugaboo called the New Woman, who 
shall devastate The Home and happiness. It 
is a strong argument for our superiority that 
there is nothing that frightens a man so much 
as a woman's threatening to become like him. 
Yet the time has come for frightening him, 
and we are doing it conscientiously, for, to 
confess truth, there is nothing that frightens 
a woman so much as becoming like a man. 
However, for his soul's sake, she can manage 

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The Joys of Being a Woman 

to assume the externals of man's conduct, but 
not^even for his soul's sake, much less her own, 
would she ever adopt his mental or spiritual 
equipment. Adam has such a tendency to 
ennui that the only way to keep him really 
comfortable is every now and then to make 
him a little uncomfortable. He was so well 
off in Eden, and consequently so dour and 
dumpish, that Eve had no choice whatever 
but to remove him from The Home entirely 
in order to save his character. We are hop- 
ing that we women of the present shall not 
be driven to such an extremity; for we know 
what her exile meant for Eve! We are busily 
fostering man's fear of losing The Home, as 
the best way of making him appreciate it, 
and so of preserving it for him, and for our- 
selves. 

As with The Home, so with the woman 
called New. She never was, she never will be, 
but to present her to man's future seems the 
only way of making man satisfied with the 
woman of the past. We have had to stir men 
to appreciate us as women, by showing them 
how easily we could be men if we would. The 
creator granted to Adam's loneliness an Eve, 
not another Adam, and should we at this late 
day fail the purpose of our making, and cease 
to be women? We have changed our manners 
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The Joys of Being a Woman 

and conversation a little, for the better suc- 
cess of our scare, but the woman who sits 
chuckling while she tends man's hearth and 
him, is still as old-fashioned as Eve, and as 
new. 

Men, who always take themselves as seri- 
ously as children, have been easy enough to 
frighten by means of a feminism that seems 
to take itself seriously. A really penetrating 
man might guess that when women seem to 
be so much in earnest, they must be up to 
something quite different from their seeming, 
and he might safely divine that, however 
novel woman's purposes may appear to be, 
they will always be explicable in the light 
of her oldest purpose — man's improvement. 
Now man's improvement is a heavy task, and 
when nature entrusted it to woman, she gave 
her a compensating advantage. To become 
a genuine feminist, a woman would have to 
forego her most enviable possession — her 
sense of humor. Man can laugh, of course, 
noisily enough; but what man possesses the 
gift and the grace of seeing himself as a joke? 
Men who must do the work of the world are 
better off without humor, because they can 
thus more easily keep their eyes on the road, 
just as a horse needs blinders; but woman, 

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who directs the work of man, needs to have 
her eyes everywhere at once. By another fig- 
ure, such rudimentary humor as man does 
have is merely an external armor against cir- 
cumstance; but woman's humor is permeat- 
ing, her armor is all through her system, as if 
her sinews were wrought of steel and sun- 
beams. A man never wishes to be a woman? 
Is it not an argument for the joys of being a 
woman, that no man seems to have had such 
fun in being a man that it has occurred to him 
to write an essay on the subject? 



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II 

<tA Man in the House 

THERE persists much of the harem in 
every well-regulated home. In every 
house arranged to make a real man really 
happy, that man remains always a visitor, 
welcomed, honored, but perpetually a guest. 
He steps in from the great outside for rest 
and refreshment, but he never belongs. For 
him the click and hum of the harem ma- 
chinery stops, giving way to love and laugh- 
ter, but there is always feminine relief when 
the master departs and the household hum 
goes on again. The anomaly lies in the fact 
that in theory all the machinery exists but 
for the master's comfort; but in practice, it is 
much easier to arrange for his comfort when 
he is not there. A house without a man is 
savorless, yet a man in a house is incarnate 
interruption. No matter how closely he in- 
carcerates himself, or how silently, a woman 
always feels him there. He may hide beyond 
five doors and two flights of stairs, but his 
presence somehow leaks through, and uncon- 
sciously dominates every domestic detail. He 

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dA Man in the House 

does not mean to, the woman does not mean 
him to; it is merely the nature of him. Keep 
a man at home during the working hours of 
the day, and there is a blight on that house, 
not obvious, but subtle, touching the mood 
and the manner of maidservant and man- 
servant, cat, dog, and mistress, and affecting 
even the behavior of inanimate objects, so 
that there is a constraint about the sewing- 
machine, a palsy on the vacuum-cleaner, and 
a gaucherie in the stove-lids. Over the whole 
household spreads a feeling of the unnatural, 
and a resulting sense of ineffectuality. Let 
the man go out, and with the closing of the 
front door, the wheels grow brisk again, and 
smooth. To enjoy a home worth enjoying, a 
man should be in it as briefly as possible. 

By nature man belongs to the hunt in the 
open, and woman to the fire indoors, and just 
here lies one of the best reasons for being a 
woman rather than a man, because a woman 
can get along without a man's out-of-doors 
much better than a man can get along without 
a woman's indoors, which proves woman of 
the two the better bachelor, as being more 
self-contained and self-contented. Every real 
man when abroad on the hunt is always dream- 
ing of a hearth and a hob and a wife, whereas 
no real woman, if she has the hearth and the 
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<zA Man in the House 

hob, is longing for man's hunting spear or 
quarry. If she is indeed a real woman she is 
very likely longing to give a man the comfort 
of the fire, provided he will not stay too long 
at a stretch, but get out long enough to give 
her time to brush up his hearth and rinse his 
teapot satisfactorily to herself. 

A man's home-coming is not an end in it- 
self, its objective is the woman; but a wom- 
an's home-making exists both for the man 
and for itself. A woman needs to be alone 
with her house because she talks to it, and in 
a tongue really more natural than her talk 
with her husband, which is always better for 
having a little the company flavor, as in the 
seraglio. The most devoted wives are often 
those frankest in their abhorrence of a man in 
the house. It is because they do not like to 
keep their hearts working at high pressure too 
long at a time; they prefer the healthy relief 
of a glorious day of sorting or shopping be- 
tween the master's breakfast and his dinner. 

It is a rare menage that is not incommoded 
by having its males lunch at home. It is much 
better when a woman may watch their dear 
coat-tails round the corner for the day, with 
an equal exaltation in their freedom for the 
fray and her own. A woman whose males 
have their places of. business neither on the 

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dA Man in the House 

great waters nor in the great streets, but in 
their own house, is of all women the most 
perpetually pitied by other women, and the 
most pathetically patient. She never looks 
quite like other women, this doctor's, minis- 
ter's, professor's, writer's wife. Her eyes have 
a harassed patience, and her lips a protesting 
sweetness, for she does not belong to her 
house, and so she does not belong to herself. 
When a man's business-making and a wom- 
an's home-making live under the same roof, 
they never go along in parallel independence: 
always the man's overlaps, invades. Kitchen 
and nursery are hushed before the needs of of- 
fice and study, and the professional telephone 
call postpones the orders to the butcher. The 
home suffers, but the husband suffers more, 
for he is no longer a guest in his own house, 
with all a guest's prerogatives; he now belongs 
there, and must take the consequences. 

Fortunately the professional men-about- 
the-house are in small minority, and so are 
their housekeepers, but all women have some- 
times to experience the upheaval incident on 
a man's vacation at home; whether father's, 
or husband's, or college brother's, or son's, 
the effect is always the same: the house stands 
on its head, and for two days it kicks up its 
heels and enjoys it, but after two weeks, two 
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&A Man in the House 

months, that is, on the removal of the excit- 
ing stimulus, it sinks to coma for the rest of 
the season. The different professions differ 
in their treatment of a holiday, except that all 
men at home on a vacation act like fish on 
land or cats in water, and expect their women- 
folk either to help them pant, or help them 
swim. They seem to go out a great deal, — 
at least they are always clamoring to have 
their garments prepared for sorties, social or 
piscatorial, — and yet they always seem to 
be under heel. Some men on a home holiday 
tinker all day long, others bring with them a 
great many books which they never read, and 
the result in both cases is that housekeeping 
becomes a prolonged picking up. All men at 
home on a vacation eat a great deal more than 
other men, or than at other times; but with 
the sole exception of the anomalous academic, 
who is always concerned for his gastronomy, 
they will eat anything and enjoy it, — and 
say so. A man at home for his holidays is al- 
ways vociferously appreciative. His happi- 
ness is almost enough to repay a woman for 
the noise he makes, and the mess; yet statis- 
tics would show that during any man's home 
vacation the women of the house lose just 
about as many pounds as the man gainst But 
what are women for, or homes? 

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<±A Man in the Home 

After all 9 you can have a house without a 
man in it if you are quite sure you want to, 
but you cannot have a home without one. 
You cannot make a home out of women alone, 
or men alone; you have to mix them. Still 
every woman must admit, and every man 
with as much sense as a woman, that it *s very 
hard to make a home for any man if he is al- 
ways in it. Every honest front door must 
confess that it is glad to see its master go 
forth in the morning; but this is only because 
it is so much gladder to see him come back at 
night. 



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Ill 

Old-Clothes Sensations 

PEOPLE whom penury has never com- 
pelled in infancy or adolescence [to wear 
other people's clothes have missed a valu- 
able lesson in social sympathy. In our jour- 
ney from the period when we first strutted 
thoughtlessly in our Cousin Charles's cast- 
off coat on to the time when we resented its 
misfit, and thence to that latest and best day 
when we could bestow our own discarded 
jacket on poor little Cousin Billy, we have 
successively experienced all the gradations 
of soul between pauper and philanthropist. 
Most of us are fortunate enough to put away 
other people's clothes when we put away the 
rest of childhood's indignities; but our early 
experiences should make us thoughtful of 
those who have no such luck, who seem or- 
dained from birth to be all the world's poor 
relations. In gift-clothes there is something 
peculiarly heart-searching both for giver and 
recipient. 

This delicacy inherent in the present of cast- 
off suit or frock is due perhaps to the subtle 

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>Old-Clothes Sensations 

clinging of the giver's self to the serge or silk. 
It is a strong man who feels that he is himself in 
another man's old coat. If an individuality is 
fine enough to be worth retaining, it is likely 
to be fine enough to disappear utterly be- 
neath the weight of another man's shoulders 
upon one's own. Most of us would rather have 
our creeds chosen for us than our clothes. 
Most of us would rather select our own tatters 
than have another's cast-off splendors thrust 
upon us. It is no light achievement, the living 
up to and into other people's clothes. Clothes 
acquire so much personality from their first 
wearer, — adjust themselves to the swell of 
the chest, the quirk of the elbow, the hitch in 
the hip-joint, — that the first wearer always 
wears them, no matter how many times they 
may be given away. He is always felt to be 
inside, so that the second wearer's ego is con- 
stantly bruised by the pressure resulting from 
two gentlemen occupying the same waistcoat. 
Middle children are to be pitied for being 
condemned to be constantly made over out 
of the luckier eldest's outgrown raiment. How 
can Tommy be sure he is Tommy, when he is 
always walking around in Johnny's shoes? 
Or Polly, grown to girlhood, ever find her own 
heart, when all her life it has beaten under 
Anna's pinafore? 
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Old-Clothes Sensations 

The evil is still worse when the garments 
come from outside the family, for one may 
readily accept from blood-kin bounty which, 
bestowed by a stranger, would arouse a cor- 
roding resentment. This is because one can 
always revenge one's self on one's relatives 
for an abasement of gratitude by means of 
self-respecting kicks and pinches. A grow- 
ing soul may safely wear his big brother's 
ulster, but no one else's; for there are germs 
in other people's clothes, — the big bad yel- 
low bacilli of covetousness. People give you 
their old clothes because they have ne w <jnp» ? 
and th is fact is hard to forg ive. 

There may, of course, exist mitigating cir- 
cumstances that often serve to solace or re- 
move this basic resentment. To receive gown 
or hat or boots direct from the donor is de- 
grading, but in proportion as they come to us 
through a lengthening chain of transferring 
hands the indignity fades out, the previous 
wearer's personality becomes less insistent; 
until, when identification is an impossibility, 
we may even take pleasure in conjecturing 
who may have previously occupied our pock- 
ets, may even feel the pull of real friendliness 
toward the unknown heart that beat beneath 
the warm woolen bosom presented to us. 

Further, the potential bitterness of the 

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Old-Clothes Sensations 

recipient is dependent on the stage of his 
racial development and the color of his skin. 
The Ethiopian prefers old clothes to new. 
The black cook would rather have her mis- 
tress's cast-off frock than a new one, and the 
cook is therein canny. She trusts the correct- 
ness of the costume that her lady has chosen 
for herself, but distrusts the selection the 
lady might make for her maid. On assuming 
the white woman's clothes, the black woman 
feels that she succeeds also to the white wom- 
an's dignity. The duskier race stands at the 
same point of evolution with the child who 
falls upon the box of cast-off finery and who 
straightway struts about therein without 
thought of his own discarded independence. 
I may be perceived to write from the point 
of view of one clothed in childhood out of the 
missionary box. Those first old clothes re- 
ceived were donned with gloating and glory; 
but later, in my teens, — that period so 
strangely composed for all of us out of spirit- 
ual shabbiness and spiritual splendor, — sen- 
sations toward the cast-off became uneasy, un- 
comfortable, at last unbearable. The sprout- 
ing personality resisted the impact of that 
other personality who had first worn my gar- 
ments. I wanted raiment all my own, dully at 
first, then fiercely. 
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Old-Clothes Sensations 

No one who has passed from a previous 
condition of servitude to the dignity of his 
own earnings will ever forget the pride of his 
first self-bought clothes. At last one is one's 
self and belongs not to another man's coat, 
or another woman's gown. It is a period of 
expansion, of pride: when one's clothes are 
altogether one's own, one's pauper days are 
done. But it is best for sympathy not to for- 
get them, not only for the sake of the pauper, 
but for the sake of the plutocrat we are on the 
verge of becoming; for our sensations in re- 
gard to old clothes are about to enter a new 
phase; we are about to undergo the ordeal of 
being ourselves the donors of our own old 
clothes. 

It was not alone for the new coat's intrinsic 
sake that we desired it; we coveted still more 
the experience of giving it away when we were 
done with it. There is no more soul-warming 
sensation than that of giving away something 
that you no longer want. The pain of a recip- 
ient's feelings on receiving a thing which you 
can afford to give away, but which he him- 
self cannot afford to buy, is exactly balanced 
by your pride in presenting him with some- 
thing that you can't use. 

The best way to get rid of the pauper spirit 
is to pauperize some one else. This is cynical 

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Old-Clothes Sensations 

philanthropy, but veracious ps ychology. It 
follows that the Best way to restore a pau- 
per's self-respect is to present him with some 
old clothes to give to some one still poorer; 
for clothes are, above all gifts, a supreme test 
of character. It was the custom of epics to 
represent the king as bestowing upon his 
guest-friends gifts of clothes, but they were 
never old clothes. If you could picture some 
Homeric monarch in the act of giving away 
his worn-out raiment, in that moment you 
would see his kingliness dwindle. 

The man who can receive another man's 
old clothes without thereby losing his self- 
respect is fit to be a prince among paupers, 
but the man who can give another man his 
old clothes without wounding that man's self- 
respect is fit to be thejring of all philant hro- 
pists. 



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IV 

Luggage and the Lady 

I WRITE as one pursued through life by 
the malevolence of inanimate objects. 
My singular subjection to things was never 
brought so painfully home to me as during 
four months in Europe. Of course, my soul 
had been to Europe a great many times, but 
my body never, and now I was taking it, as 
well as certain scrip and scrippage for its 
journey. I chained up my soul and held it 
under lock and key while I took counsel with 
certain seductive guidebooks. These paternal 
manuals left no detail untouched, until there 
was no fear left for me of cabs or custom- 
houses, of money-tables or time-tables. It 
was all as simple as bread and milk. One thing 
all my guides inveighed against, a superfluity 
of baggage; with them I utterly agreed. A 
trunk was an expensive luxury on foreign rail- 
ways: there stood ready always an army of 
porters to escort one's handbags. A lady 
could travel gayly with a single change of 
raiment; after a day's dust and soil, merely 
the transformation of a blouse, and behold 

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Luggage and the Lady 

a toilet fit for any table d'hote. Moreover, 
so remarkable were foreign laundry facilities 
that on tumbling to bed all you had to do was 
to summon an obliging maid, deliver, sleep, 
and on the morrow morn, behold yourself 
all crisply washed and ironed. As to the ex- 
pense of a trunk and the battalions of porters, 
the guidebooks were correct; as to the rest, 
they lied. The single blouse theory is all very 
well if you don't wear out or tear out by the 
way; and as to the laundry fallacy, do I not 
still see myself roaming the streets of Ant- 
werp searching vainly for one single blan- 
chisserie ? My conclusion is that one needs 
clothes and a right mind about as much on 
one side of the Atlantic as on the other. 

But I had not reached this conclusion when 
I bought my baggage, therefore I limited my- 
self to two hand-pieces. For the first of these 
I had not far to search. It was that frail, 
slim, dapper thing, a straw suitcase. It was 
very light, just how light I was afterwards to 
discover, but before embarkation I regarded 
it with joy; it seemed to me suitable and gen- 
teel, with its sober gray sides and trim leather 
corners. With it I was satisfied, whereas from 
the first I felt misgiving about my second arti- 
cle of impedimenta. There was nothing gen- 
teel or ladylike about this, that was certain, 
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Luggage and the Lady 

but perhaps I am not the first traveler who 
has yielded to the mendacious promises of a 
telescope. It looks as if it would so obligingly 
yield to the need either of condensation or 
expansion. You may inflate or contract at 
will, and it's all the same to the telescope. 
My telescope was peculiarly unbeautiful. Its 
material was a shiny substance looking like 
linoleum, called wood fiber, and having a 
bright burnt-orange color. Its corners were 
strengthened with sheet iron, lacquered black. 
You have seen the same in use by rural drum- 
mers, but rarely in a female hand. I don't 
know why I bought it. It is part of my quarrel 
with inanimate objects that they always 
exert an hypnotic influence upon me in the 
shop, and always excite loathing so soon as 
they arrive at my home. In this instance it 
was both the saleswoman and the purchase 
that excited the hypnotism. She was of that 
florid, expansive, pompadoured type that al- 
ways reduces my mind to feebleness. More- 
over, she jumped up and down on my pros- 
pective telescope, bouncing before my eyes 
in all her bigness. Now, in my sober senses I 
do know that one's primary motive in pur- 
chasing a handbag is not that one may dance 
upon it; but at that moment, as I watched her 
pirouetting as if on a springboard, I felt that 

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Luggage and the Lady 

no piece of luggage was anything worth unless 
you could jump upon it. I bought. 

Almost at once that tawny bedemoned box 
began its career of naughtiness. The first 
thing it did on shipboard was to disappear. It 
stopped just long enough to be entered in the 
agent's book, and then it leaped down into the 
hold and hid. I searched; the purser searched; 
so did six several stewards and stewardesses. 
The stewards searched the staterooms; I 
searched the passages; together we searched 
the hold, penetrating even the steerage to see 
if the missing article were congregating with 
the motley collection down there. We were 
four days out when, in a passage repeatedly 
searched, on a ledge near a porthole, behold 
my tawny telescope leering at me! My stew- 
ard was genuinely superstitious over it. So 
was I. 

It was during my first travels on land that 
I discovered that a capacity for being jumped 
upon, far from being a recommendation in a 
piece of luggage, is distinctly a detraction. 
I did a great deal of jumping during three 
weeks in Scotland. I am sure I shall have sym- 
pathizers when I declare my difficulties in 
packing a telescope. In the first place, it is 
very hard, when both ends are lying on the 
floor, supine and gaping, to distinguish which 
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Luggage and the Lady 

is top and which is bottom. It is only after 
sad repacking that you discover that while 
top will sometimes go over bottom, bottom 
will never go over top. Having ascertained 
which is bottom, you begin to pack. You soon 
are even with the edge; but in a telescope this 
is nothing. You continue to pack, up, up into 
the air, a tremulous mountain of garments 
upon which at length you gingerly place top. 
Firmly seating yourself at one end, you grasp 
the straps that girdle the other, and bravely 
you seek to buckle them. Result, while that 
end of the telescope on which you are sitting 
undoubtedly settles under your weight, from 
the gaping mouth which you are attempting 
to muzzle there is belched forth an array of 
petticoats, blouses, collars, postcards. You 
dismount, reopen, replace scattered articles, 
and reseat yourself on the opposite end. Re- 
sult, the end which sank under you before 
now pops wide, and spouts forth a stream of 
Baedekers red as collops. Again you repack 
all, replace top. Starting from across the 
room, with a running high jump, you aim to 
land on the very middle of the thing. Result, 
the top goes down, it is true, but from all 
edges there dips a fringe of garments. In the 
privacy of your room, with the assistance of 
Heaven and the chambermaid and the Boots, 

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you may sometimes contrive to shut a tele- 
scope; but I once had to open and restrap 
mine, sole and unaided, in the waiting room of 
a station. It happened that I had placed my 
ticket to London in the toe of one shoe, 
placed the shoe in the bottom of the straw 
suitcase, locked this, placed the key in the toe 
of the other shoe, and placed that in the bot- 
tom of my telescope. Why did I do this? 
Simply because I had just visited Melrose 
Abbey. I frequently suffer from a tendency 
of my costume to disruption in moments of 
stress. At times of great muscular exertion 
and mental excitement my hat tends to take 
an inebriate lunge, each several hairpin stands 
on end, my collar rises rowdyish from its 
moorings, impeccable glove fingers gape wan- 
tonly. All these circumstances attended the 
closing of my telescope on that occasion. It 
was immediately after that I decided upon 
the necessity of a third piece of baggage. 

I bought it in Edinburgh, on Princes 
Street, the wonderful street where you vainly 
seek to apply yourself to mundane shopping 
with Edinburgh Castle ever filling your vision, 
standing over there on its craggy hill, all misty 
with legend, while a hundred memories of 
Mary Queen of Scots come whispering at your 
ear as you soberly endeavor to buy gloves. If 
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my previous impedimenta had been out- 
rageously American, my third handbag was 
Scotch, every inch of him. He was gentle- 
manly and distinguished, frank and accom- 
modating. I have never seen anything like 
him over here, — shiny black sides of oil- 
cloth, bound by leather strips, plentifully 
studded with tacks, but otherwise strictly 
unornamented. But his chief charm was the 
way he opened, the whole top flapping easily 
apart at will, and afterwards the two sides 
closing over all as easily as if his only desire 
were to please. In capacity he was unlimited; 
you could pour into him, on and on, and al- 
ways he closed upon his contents smilingly, 
without protest. 

For a brief space, as \ trickled down through 
England from cathedral to cathedral, my 
Scotch companion was my chiefest comfort, 
the mere sight of his black, rising-sunshiny 
face cheering me as it looked down upon me 
from the luggage rack of a third-class carriage. 
More and more I came to impose upon the 
generosity of his interior, until one day my 
confidence in his Scotch integrity was rudely 
shattered; for I discovered that the reason he 
could hold so much was that he had quietly 
kicked out his bottom! He continued to ac- 
company me, it is true, but thrust from 

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his high gentlemanly estate, resembling now 
rather those bleary, dilapidated Glasgow por- 
ters that greet one's arriving vessel, his frail 
form, like theirs, begirt and bandaged in or- 
der to support the few light belongings I now 
dared to entrust to his feebleness. 

Meanwhile, the strength of my yellow tele- 
scope continued unabated, but so did also its 
averseness to accommodating my possessions, 
which daily, all unwittingly and unwillingly, 
increased. My dapper suitcase had suffered 
by the way, its neat sides were bruised and 
staved in, one leather corner was missing, 
another stood up like an attentive ear. It 
still smiled, "brave in ragged luck," but its 
own America would not have known it. It 
now appeared that England, and as it hap- 
pened, rural Devon, must contribute another 
article to my retinue. 

Now, ever since I had touched Great Brit- 
ain, my unaccustomed eye had been fasci- 
nated by a piece of luggage quite new to me. 
I mean that most British thing, the tin trunk. 
We have nothing like it in luggage, but we 
have copied it exactly in cake boxes; the only 
difference is that the English original has a 
bulge top and a lock and key. In character 
my British baggage was much better natured 
than my American telescope, but in color it 
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Luggage and the Lady 

was much the same, orange tawny; it had 
grown very easy for me to spot my belongings 
in the miscellany of the luggage van. 

These representatives of the American, 
Scotch, and English nations followed in my 
wake from Southampton to St. Malo, and 
perhaps their company need never have been 
increased on the continent if in Brittany I had 
not bought a pair of sabots, life size. Noth- 
ing so unaccommodating as sabots ! Seemingly 
each was big enough to sleep in, but if I at- 
tempted 'to pack the inside of one, behold, it 
would hold nothing at all; it was built to hold 
a foot, and if it could n't have a foot, it would 
have nothing. In true peasant insolence, each 
sabot demanded a whole handbag to itself, 
and, once in, refused to accommodate its sub- 
stantial bulk to the needs of any of my other 
possessions. In much difficulty I managed to 
get across France, but once in Paris, espe- 
cially in view of certain aristocratic pur- 
chases that absolutely refused to consort with 
wooden shoes, the need of still a fifth hand- 
piece was evident. 

Paris luggage, like a Paris lady, is built to 
show a pleasing exterior. Diversion rather 
than utility is its motive. My Paris hand- 
bag still preserves its suggestion of perpetual 
picnic. It looks as if it were always just off 

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for a Sunday in the Bois. It is a woven wicker 
thing, exactly like an American lunch-basket, 
vastly magnified. The handle must be grasped 
from the top, and is not the handy side ap- 
pendage of all American grips. I never look 
at it without seeing within dozens upon 
dozens of boiled eggs and sandwiches. As a 
matter of fact, it has never held anything of 
the sort; rather it carried my new Parisian 
costume safely from Paris to New York. 

By dint of fast and furious touring through 
Belgium I managed not to acquire anything 
more to pack or to be packed, but in Holland 
once again I fell. I was within a few days of 
sailing when I visited Alkmaar. There a tall 
polyglot young Dutchman showed me through 
a most delicious cheese factory. Innocent and 
round, ruby or orange, smiled those cheeses 
down at me from their long shelves. My 
guide gave me to eat. Thus it was that the 
last thing I bought on the other side was — 
cheeses! Oh, he assured me, they were per- 
fectly well behaved; even had they so desired 
they could not get out of their strong cases; 
no more innocent gift to be taken home* to 
appreciative friends. That Dutchman un- 
derstood American credulity better than he 
did the American language. Those cheeses 
did not stay in their cases. They came out 
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and performed in all ways after the manner 
of cheeses. Now throughout my trip, what- 
ever inconveniences I might suffer by reason 
of possessions acquired, I could never make 
up my mind to abandon any. Having bought 
them, I did not desert my cheeses, but it be- 
came increasingly apparent that they would 
have to travel in a home of their own, to- 
gether with such of my goods as would not 
be corrupted by evil communications. I pur- 
chased my last bit of luggage in Rotterdam. 
It was a gray canvas bag, in shape like a 
dachshund without the appendages. It was 
capable of as much lateral expansion as a 
Marken fisherman. It received and held the 
cheeses, but frankly, so that their contour was 
clear to the eye. To all appearances I was 
taking home a bushel of turnips out of brave 
little Holland. 

I embarked at Rotterdam, and for ten days 
sank into that state of coma to which ocean 
travel stimulates me. It was not till we had 
touched the Hoboken dock that I became 
once more acutely alert. I had donned my 
Paris traveling dress, had walked through the 
great shed until I found my letter X, and then 
turned about to wait with the rest for the ar- 
rival of my luggage. Then for the first time 
realization overwhelmed me. I was waiting 

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for my bags, my bags; those six disreputable 
traveling companions would here and now 
seek me out and claim my society, right here 
in America, with V and W to right of me, Y 
and Z to left, my haughty steamer acquaint- 
ance, looking on! Over on the other side one is 
not known by one's baggage, but here one is ! 
I had faced many a white continental porter 
with nonchalance, but with which one of my 
motley collection in my hand could I face the 
black Pullman porter of my own country? I 
cowered with shame, so slowly they arrived, 
each several one of the six, tediously thread- 
ing its way to X, never losing itself, never 
losing me, always hunting me down! The joy 
of home-coming was turned to gall. I saw V 
and W, Y and Z, turn away their faces. To 
my eyes each several hand-piece looked more 
bizarre than the last. Which one should I 
select to accompany me on an American rail- 
road? Which of the motley crew would least 
endanger the respectability of a lady travel- 
ing alone in an American car? Through the 
crowd my Parisian lunch-basket came minc- 
ing up to me, still ready for perpetual picnic. 
Silly chit! I wouldn't travel with her. My 
Rotterdam purchase, bulging and redolent 
with cheeses, came waddling up, respectable 
perhaps, but with it I should have been as 
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Luggage and the Lady 

conspicuous as with one of the Marken imps 
in copious trousers that it so much resembled. 
My former pride of Scotch travel was now so 
fallen away that he looked as if he were in the 
last stages of his native whiskey, and as if his 
physique would hardly have supported the 
weight of a hairpin. No help to be had in him ! 
My American suitcase, in May so trig and 
debonair, had been punched and pounded out 
of all semblance to anything belonging either 
to America or a suitcase. My British cake- 
box had suffered likewise, and in its decrepi- 
tude supported the loss of a lock, and ap- 
peared to my horrified eyes carefully roped 
with clothesline by a friendly steward. Even 
though I promptly sat down upon it, spread- 
ing my Paris skirt wide, I could not conceal 
that yellow cake-box from the fashionable 
steamer folk that swarmed about me. Suit- 
case and tin trunk both had lost all distinc- 
tion of nation; they both belonged now to the 
international species, tramp. There remained 
to me only my evil genius, the orange-tawny 
telescope. Foreign labels had but scantily 
subdued the natural aggressiveness of his de- 
meanor. He was possible — perhaps. Then 
I considered how he had flouted me, scorned 
me, spilled out at me, jeered at me in my 
helplessness. I pictured opening and shutting 

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Luggage and the Lady 

him in the berth of a sleeping car; then quietly, 
inconspicuously, and virulently, I kicked him. 
I fastened the last strap the customs officers 
had loosened. Just one moment I hesitated, 
regarding my rakish European retinue, then 
I fell upon the waiting baggage-agent. " Check 
them all," I cried, "all! " Free as a bird, as a 
gypsy, as an American, I traveled from New 
York to Chicago, a lady luggage-less. 



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V 
'Detached Thoughts on Boarding 

BOARDING is a puzzling and provoca- 
tive subject for any student of human 
nature. Some clue to its psychology is re- 
vealed by the fact that even Adam and Eve 
got tired of it, Eden itself could not keep 
them from wanting their own menage. One 
can conjecture the course of their growing 
ennui and irritation as the suspicion dawned 
upon them that in Paradise they were not 
getting all the comforts of home. Having 
. nothing to do but board, they probably con- 
versed a great deal about their food, when 
the celestial ministrants were out of earshot, 
and eventually decided that they could have 
run the table a great deal better themselves. 
Then, too, they had no privacy, they were 
absolutely at the mercy of any archangel 
who might choose to drop in on them. Pos- 
sibly, also, Eve felt that Eden was no sort 
of place for bringing up children. They 
might be spoiled by the attentions of other 
boarders, elephant or ape, fish or fowl, any 
one of a perfectly indiscriminate menagerie, 

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'Detached Thoughts on Boarding 

while she herself, as a mother, might be sub- 
jected to constant advice from angels who 
did not know. one thing more about human 
babies than she did herself. After Eve had 
thought over these matters for some time, 
and whispered them all to Adam, she did 
what many another boarder has done since; 
she up and precipitated a crisis. 

The case of Adam and Eve is sufficiently 
typical to afford some light upon the puzzling 
effects of boarding, but not quite enough il- 
lumination to satisfy the psychologist. He is 
teased by the conviction that there is more 
in this matter than he can get at. Without 
an ultimate analysis of causes it may still be 
of interest to examine some results to the 
human spirit of both the selling and the buy- 
ing of house-room, and to offer some tenta- 
tive explanation of the curious phenomena 
that for many of us are too familiar for atten- 
tion. 

We all recognize as a distinct human type 
the woman who keeps boarders. One writes 
woman rather than man, not that in strict 
accuracy one could say that men never keep 
boarders; when men do engage in the busi- 
ness, however, they do so by wholesale, never 
by retail, while it is precisely the increased 
personal intimacy of the retail relation that 
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'Detached Thoughts on Boarding 

occasions the peculiar blight incurred by the 
proprietor of a boarding-house, but escaped 
by the proprietor of a hotel. There is an ex- 
pression familiar to our tongues, distressing 
in its figurative suggestion, which is fre- 
qnently descriptive of the class under dis- 
cussion, " decayed gentlewoman." No one 
knows whether a gentlewoman takes boarders 
because she has decayed or whether she de- 
cays because she takes them. Of course, not 
all women who take boarders are decrepit 
either in soul or body, — some of them are 
very buxom indeed; and, equally, not all are 
refined, — some of them are refreshingly vul- 
gar; still, as a whole, the attributes inherent 
in the term " decayed gentlewoman " so gen- 
erally characterize the profession that in 
whatever country one travels one is received 
by ladies so consciously redolent of better 
days as to shame a boarder for not having 
had better days himself. However adroitly 
they conceal their emotions, women who 
entertain paying guests generally have to- 
ward their occupation a feeling of perpetual 
apology or of perpetual resentment. Some- 
times the apology element predominates, and 
then a blundering boarder had better be 
mindful of the sensitive toes of his hostess; 
sometimes the resentment is uppermost, and 

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then the boarder had better be mindful for 
his own toes. There is no reason why these 
facts should characterize so worthy a busi- 
ness, and there are conspicuous exceptions 
in which both the woman and the domicile 
remain invincibly warm-hearted and wel- 
coming, but the rule still holds that only the 
rarest of women can invite the public into 
her home and not herself suffer from the ex- 
posure, only the rarest of women can as the 
mistress of a boarding-house still be perfectly 
herself. 

Having boarders, however, is not so de- 
moralizing as being a boarder. The chronic 
boarder is an easily recognizable type, fat, 
fussy, futHe, and usually feminine. This 
caustic characterization does not apply to 
women who go out by the day to any form 
of scrubbing, as doctors, lawyers, or what- 
not, professional women too busy for carping; 
it is the woman who has no profession except 
boarding that suffers its utmost injury. To 
give primary attention to the manner in 
which one is fed and lodged has the same 
effect as any other reversion to an animal 
attitude. The faces of women who do noth- 
ing but keep house are always harassed; the 
faces of women who do nothing but board are 
always vacuous. Men-boarders in a house are 
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'Detached Thoughts on Boarding 

generally preferred to women; a he-boarder 
is more to be desired than a she-boarder 
because there is less of him underfoot. On 
the other hand, since a man can always beat 
a woman on her own ground whenever he 
thinks it worth while, a man who gives his 
undivided attention to his boarding can in 
fume and fuss out-boarder any woman. 

The insidious influence of boarding upon 
the spirit is most evident when we watch 
it operate upon a child. We all know the 
type of youngster that even the very best 
of boarding-houses is prone to produce. He 
is noisy, aggressive, self-conscious, and yet to 
sympathetic penetration profoundly pathetic. 
He knows that all his little life is overheard, 
that every room knows when he is scolded 
or spanked or entreated. A grown-up learns 
how to conceal his soul from even boarding- 
house scrutiny, but a child has no refuge ex- 
cept in slamming doors and thundering on 
the stairs and jumping into the secrets of 
those who have trespassed upon his own. 

The effect of boarding upon our own. soul 
may best be seen by contrasting our reac- 
tions to our geography, according as we wake 
in the morning to find ourselves at home, in 
a friend's home, or in a boarding-house. At 
home our attitude toward the ensuing day is 

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'Detached Thoughts on Boarding 

one of absolute sincerity, — we expect to be 
our best self or our worst, for frankness is 
the chief comfort of kinship; if, on the other 
hand, we open our eyes in somebody's guest 
chamber, we marshal our forces to insure our 
good behavior, we owe it to our host to put 
out best foot foremost; but if we wake in a 
boarding-house? There our morning resolve 
reduces itself to the single sordid intention 
to get our money's worth. This latent hos- 
tility is ignominious and unworthy, but it is 
true- Yet we all know that any hostelry is 
richer in Samaritan opportunities than the 
road to Jericho. 

The detriment due to boarding does not 
confine itself to animate beings, but extends 
to the inanimate. In a boarding-house even 
the chairs look protesting and sat upon. The 
curtains seem exhausted by enforced wel- 
come. The overworked kitchen has not 
enough pride left to keep its savors to itself. 
The piano has clattered until it has forgotten 
it was ever meant for music. The doom of 
dejection falls upon a boarding-house both 
without and within, so that one always re- 
grets its entrance into a street cozy with 
homes. Its windows stare forth so blankly 
that the homes grow uncomfortable and move 
away. There is a blur over the face-walls of 
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'Detached Thoughts on Boarding 

a boarding-place obliterating the individual- 
ity to which every house has a right. 

This very absence of personality gives the 
boarding-house a certain personality of its 
own. The effort to analyze this character 
has made the boarding-house a favorite back- 
ground with story-writers. Balzac, in "Pere 
Goriot," caught and reproduced its very soul 
as well as the soul of the homeless home-lover 
that it harbored. The frequency of the hall 
bedroom and the long table in magazine 
stories to-day suggests the wistful familiarity 
with both of writer and reader. The juxta- 
position of types in a group bound together 
by no more congenial tie than the brute need 
of food and shelter has always opened a fas- 
cinating field to the romancer from Chaucer's 
day to ours. 

The mere mention of Chaucer's name is 
eloquent with contrast, for surely the Tabard 
was no bleak spot, but warm and tingling with 
hospitality. Yet even Chaucer's blithe com- 
pany had a sharp eye and a gossipy tongue 
ready for each other's, foibles, and if they had 
remained together too long, it would have 
taken more than mine host to keep them in 
order, but fortunately they had their picnic 
and parted. Another week or two and even 
the Canterbury pilgrims might have degen- 

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'Detached Thoughts on Boarding 

erated into boarders, and dear knows what 
metamorphosis mine host the merry, might 
have undergone. 

To place Balzac's boarding-house and 
Chaucer's Tabard side by side is to produce 
a pregnant contrast. Yet if the primary pur- 
pose of both is akini, why the world of differ- 
ence connoted by the word "boarding-house" 
and the world "inn"? Inn suggests comfort, 
coziness, congenial conversation, but, alas, it 
also suggests a dear departed day. The only 
inns left are survivors from dead decades, 
and they themselves have no descendants. 
"Mine ease in mine inn" is a phrase from the 
past. 

It is interesting to examine the difference 
in meaning of the three types of hostelry — 
hotel, boarding-house, and inn. The hotel 
does not try to be something it is not. It 
neither offers nor expects anything personal. 
Its purpose is to make money out of the visi- 
tor, as his purpose is to get comfort out of it. 
A hotel is not a home, and it does not pretend 
to be. Now a boarding-house is pathetic be- 
cause it is always trying to be a home when it 
is not. It is we, the boarders, who are respon- 
sible for its being the wistful anomaly that it 
is, for at one moment we demand of it the in- 
difference of a hotel and the next the coziness 
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of a home, and at all moments we ask of it 
that which money cannot buy — hospitality. 
The little word inn stands apart from those 
other two, hotel and bokrding-house, and its 
charm lies as much in its literary aroma as its 
actuality. We visit inns oftener in books than 
in life, but in both they have the same char- 
acteristics. The tiniest inn is always big 
enough for personality. The innkeeper is a 
person, the guest is a person, the cook, the 
boots, the hostler, they are all real persons. 
There is time for flavoring food with conversa- 
tion. The chairs are friendly and inviting. 
The hearth leaps warm with welcome. But 
note well, one sometimes lives at a hotel, one 
often lives at a boarding-house, but one never 
lives at an inn, one merely stops. The reason 
why the welcome and the speeding of an inn 
can be so warm and genuine is that host and 
guest never have too much of each other. Both 
can present their best foot for three days when 
a stretch of three weeks would strain its ten- 
dons. In an inn food never seems skimped, the 
financial aspect never seems prominent, be- 
cause the guest never stays long enough to 
discover sordid secrets, nor long enough to 
have his own private affairs invaded. Com- 
pany manners, the outward and visible sign 
of hospitality's inward and spiritual grace, can 

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detached Thoughts on Boarding 

prevail in an inn, for the simple reason that 
no matter how often one returns, exactly as 
often one departs. 

It is clearly easier to enumerate the effects 
of boarding upon human nature than to ascer- 
tain the psychological causes underlying them. 
One ventures to hazard a few random reasons, 
all interrelated and all growing out of the 
fact that we are still cave-dwellers at heart. 
The cave household feared and hate4 the 
stranger; and with good cause. They eyed 
him askance, exactly as the other boarders in 
a house eye the recent comer. The newest 
boarder never coalesces with the group until 
the advent of another still newer, when he is 
tentatively admitted to ranks needing union 
against the latest intruder. This survival of 
prehistoric manners may be observed and 
experienced in any boarding-house. 

The hostility of older occupants toward the 
stranger is exactly matched by his suspicion 
of them, hostile suspicion always, no matter 
how obsequiously concealed. When a cave- 
dweller penetrated the seclusion of another 
cave, he was wary, on the defensive, and this 
attitude made him critical of the inmates, of 
course, and therefore, for them, a person to 
fear. We are still afraid of the stranger, of his 
eye that may see, and his tongue that may 
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^Detached Thoughts on Boarding 

tell, our secrets. Boarding hurts us because 
we suffer continual abrasion of our reserve. 
In a boarding-house, family life has to go on 
in whispers; strangers are in our midst look- 
ing and listening, and even if they are friendly 
their attention is irksome: Eve got tired of 
having even the angels around all the time. 

The human soul demands retirement, but 
is often unwilling to pay the price. Home- 
making is to be had only by house-keeping. 
In order to live by ourselves we have to take 
care of ourselves, and the effort to evade this 
issue drives us to the boarding-house. The 
home-keeping instinct is, however, as active 
in us as in our cave-dwelling ancestors, only 
they knew better than to try to suppress it. 
They knew they wanted seclusion, and so they 
rolled a rock to the cave-mouth, and possessed 
their souls in privacy. It is our doom to in- 
herit from them a desire for our own front 
door, in order that we may not have to sue for 
entrance at some one else's door, and also 
that we may never have to open ours except 
when we do so in free and voluntary welcome. 
Boarding is often necessary, but it goes con- 
trary to impulses as ineradicable in us as nest- 
making in a bird. Even the feminists, when 
they inveigh against family life, will be found 
not free from prehistoric impulses toward 

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detached Thoughts on Boarding 

privacy. They do nc>t advocate caravansary 
existence, but rather the group system, in all 
its cave-dweller isolation; only the group must 
be based on congeniality, not on mere arbi- 
trary and accidental kinship. 

The joy of slamming our own front door 
upon the world is only equaled by the joy of 
flinging that door wide to the world when we 
wish to. Of all commodities hospitality should 
be free from money-taint. The trouble with 
boarding is that it attempts to buy and sell 
a welcome. Everything is cheapened the mo- 
ment we can pay a price for it. The instant 
we lay our dollars on the counter, we have 
the right to criticize our purchase. A buyer 
does not have to say thank you with his lips 
nor yet with his heart, and this is why a 
certain uncouthness is to be incurred in any 
purely commercial relation. Hospitality is 
essentially not sordid, but spiritual: a host is 
gracious with the generosity that offers what 
money cannot buy, a guest is gracious with 
the gratitude that accepts what money can- 
not pay for. Boarding is an anomalous and 
enforced relation between people who offer 
and accept house-room, and only those can 
escape its blight who have the power always 
to elevate the commercial to the plane of the 
human and the friendly. Luckily, among this 
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small but noble company are many persons 
that board and many that take boarders. The 
existence of this minority does not alter the 
fact that for most of us boarding is a demoral- 
izing occupation. The reason lies deep: hos- 
pitality, given or received, is too sacred for 
barter. 



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VI 

The Lady Alone at Mght 

I AM a lady, and a coward. The two facts 
have no relation to each other, but both 
are necessary to a comprehension of my sen- 
timents about to be delivered. Soberly re- 
volving the universe in my mind, I find only 
one thing of which I am sure I am not afraid, 
and that is — dying. I mean merest dying, 
for I am as fearsome as any of being tossed in 
air, disjecta membra, by an automobile; of 
furnishing lingering sweetness to an epicurean 
tiger; of being played with, and pawed and 
tweaked by disease, cat-and-mouse-like; it is 
only the actual slipping by the portal of which 
I am not afraid. With this sole exception, I 
am afraid of everything: firecrackers, reptiles, 
drunken cooks, dogs, tunnels, trolleys, and 
caterpillars. About ghosts I am a little un- 
certain; experience leads me to conjecture 
that ghosts are usually your own fault: that 
is, they are a little like rattlesnakes; if you 
don't intrude, neither will they. But that cir- 
cumstance which is to me the very quintes- 
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The Lady Alone at JVtght 

sence of terror is Night and A Man. I speak 
hypothetically — it has never happened. 

Strange what a difference mere plurality of 
a noun and mere presence or absence of an 
article make to my mind. Now Men, Man, 
and A Man stand for most diverse concep- 
tions. Man, — I think of Mr. Alexander 
Pope, and of a creature of watery intellect, 
whose vitality is something between that of a 
frog and a jumping-] ack, and who is diddled 
puppet-wise by an equally anaemic deity. 
Man is humanity dehumanized, but Men are 
about the most human thing there is. Men 
are the big people, clean-scrubbed spiritually 
and physically, who come to see you and take 
you about, and look after the universe, and 
keep it in a good humor; who, when you are 
making a fool of yourself, laugh at you in a 
genial, masculine fashion. In a thin, tenta- 
tive, feminine way, you try to imitate, and 
the effort, however quavering, somehow makes 
you feel better. Men, of your own family or 
out of it, sometimes put you on trains, and 
take care of you — sometimes. Thus Men. 

But A Man — ugh! I saw him first in a 
nightmare when I was six. He wore a black 
Prince Albert, and on his head three high hats 
jammed down one on top of the other. He 
stood on the cone of a hill, black as a coal 

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The Lady Alone at Night 

against the red light of fires in the rear. From 
under his three hats he grinned at me, and on 
that black hill, against that lurid sky, he 
danced and danced and danced. He fright- 
ens me still. It is since then that Night and A 
Man have been my crown of terrors. A Man 
lurks in every darkened doorway, stretches an 
arm from every tree trunk, pursues me, — pat, 
pat, pat, — and fades into the common light 
of lamp and fire only when I am safely under 
my own roof-tree. Even in the daytime, A 
Man never deserts me: he haunts the solitary 
country lanes, lush and lovely with spring; he 
pops out upon me from mountain woods; on 
the stretches of beach he lurks just around the 
point. He is always there; at least, I suppose 
he is, for I never am — alone. 

By day, A Man is a leering horror, but at 
night he becomes, like that figure in my 
dream, pure devil. I am a suburbanite, and 
as I said before, a lady, a laboring lady. This 
is why I find myself not infrequently alone at 
night. The alarm set a-quiver when I de- 
scend from the social, bright-lit, suburban car 
and plunge forth into the dark is something 
that custom cannot stale. Yet sometimes the 
spell of the night is as a buckler against fear, 
making me wonder if solitude is really terror, 
genuine solitude, solitude belonging to me, 
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The Lady Alone at Night 

and not to A Man. I remember one early- 
winter evening, white with a recent snowfall; 
there had been an ice storm, and our trees 
were all incased, each tiniest twig, and the full 
moon rode low: I forgot A Man, in every nerve 
I was glad to be alone, but hark, a step in the 
distance, and earth again! , 

It is worth some study, the sensation of 
that approaching step, that emerging shadow, 
— bifurcated or petticoated, two feet or four? 
I am never afraid of two men: neither 
actually nor grammatically can A Man be 
two. Joseph and the Babes in the Wood for 
precedent, dissension steps in between vio- 
lence and its victim so soon as the aggressive 
party is multiplied by even two. And as for 
a group of men, whatever their caste or con- 
dition, however socially uncouth, by mere 
virtue of numbers they become a protection 
rather than a peril; by mere aggregate of 
protective instinct, A Man sufficiently multi- 
plied equals Men {supra). 

In addition to these distinctions in regard 
to the number of your potential aggressor, 
there are also distinctions geographic and geo- 
metric. I appeal to any lady of my sex and 
condition, whether there is not the greatest 
possible difference in amount of peril to be 
inferred between the man who is walking in 

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The Lady Alone at Night 

front of you on a lonely street, and the man 
who is walking behind. If a man paces on 
soberly and regularly some few discreet rods 
ahead, straightway he is enhaloed with suc- 
cor and salvation, — you are safe, you need 
only to call him in your need, and he will save. 
But should he go more slowly, fall behind, 
then in the very instant of passing you this 
same protecting saint becomes decanonized, 
and worse. There is nothing so suspicious as 
this dropping behind. True, you preserve a 
bold back, walk no faster, — note, sir, my 
valiancy, my unconcern, — but still your knee 
crooks for flight, and your vocal cords con- 
tract for that scream you wonder if you could 
ever really utter. A corresponding transfor- 
mation in moral intention, blackguard and 
chevalier, is possible for the man in your rear. 
On a recent evening I was hurrying home 
along the solitary street — steps behind! Fly- 
ing, pursuing steps! Nearer, nearer! Upon 
me, and my heart sickened and stopped beat- 
ing! But past me, fleeting on and on, disap- 
pearing, oh, too swiftly! For as he left me so 
quickly again to solitude, I could hardly resist 
an impulse to gather up my skirts and scamper 
after, after my retreating protector. I think 
he made his train. 

I have been at some pains to prove the sec- 
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The Lady Alone at Night 

ond of my introductory assertions. The rea- 
son I have not tried to prove the first is ex- 
plained by the difference between the essay 
and polite society. In polite society, one is 
under the ^obligation of confessing one's vir- 
tues, not blatantly, but none the less persist- 
ently, wearily, — one's dogging old virtues, 
as if it were not enough of a bore to live with 
them in private without having to be seen 
with them in public. In the essay one may 
have the exquisite pleasure of confessing one's 
vices. In society I must be a lady; in the essay 
I may be, as here and now, a coward. 



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VII 

In Sickness and in Health 

I HAVE been sick, but not utterly, — a 
tooth. I am in the convalescent's mood 
of confidence and confession; therefore, I 
write in haste, for in health I am buoyant and 
amiable, and not fluently penitent; indeed, 
there is little then to be penitent about. For 
a week I have been very unpleasant, and the 
circumstance leads to remarks on the moral 
disintegration attendant upon indisposition. 
I speak of petty disorders, for illnesses of 
dramatic magnitude, a run of typhoid for 
instance, sometimes tend to spiritual up- 
building, — at least, it is so demonstrated in 
fiction. Doubtless the pawing of the white 
horse in the dooryard has a soothing effect 
upon the patient's nerves, but illnesses in 
which one has not the comfort of composing 
one's epitaph are not composing to the soul. 
The lesser ailments make appalling holes in 
our integrity: myself last week threw a tea- 
spoon at my most immediate forbear. Fero- 
cious, but it was the elemental ferocity of suf- 
fering. It is a fact, belonging rather to the 
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In Sickness and in Health 

science of psychology than of medicine, that 
small sicknesses hurt more than big ones. I ap- 
peal to all connoisseurs in invalidism whether 
a tooth, an ear, an ankle, are not more direct 
in their methods of torture than pneumonia, 
smallpox, or appendicitis. Believing this, I 
have always had much sympathy for the vili- 
fied hero of a certain novelette of my ac- 
quaintance; in this romance, the husband has 
a tooth; the wife, a heart, — a literal heart, 
mechanical, physiological. ^Everybody knows 
which suffered more, and yet because the 
gentleman got a little crusty over a most 
outrageous molar, how joyously the author 
trounced him through page after pagel I am 
hot with indignation. There ought to be a 
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to 
Creations. Manufacturers of heroes and hero- 
ines should not be allowed to flay and burn 
and quarter so wantonly as they do; a humane 
reading public should take from them the 
prerogative of so unnatural a parenthood. 

This one man should have been forgiven; 
he had a toothache, and non-fatal illnesses 
may make monsters of the meekest of us; but 
fortunately, the illness being temporary, so is 
the monster. Only the recollection is humiliat- 
ing; I am recovered, but I shudder at the 
legion so recently cast out of me. Sickness 

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In Sickness and in Health 

sets free all the processes of atavism, and 
whirls us back into savagery at a breathless 
rate. The first bit of baggage we leave be- 
hind us on this rapid return journey is family 
affection. Last week my kin stood about my 
couch day and night with poultices and sym- 
pathy in their hands. I took the poultices and 
tossed back evil words out of my mouth. I 
looked upon my relatives with frankest loath- 
ing. Why? Their insulting forbearance, their 
aggressive meekness, their pbor-sufferer-here- 
is-my-other-cheek attitude stirred the foun- 
dations of my bile. Their serene patience 
provoked my utmost effort to destroy it, and 
I was impotent; their invulnerability was an 
affront to my powers of invention. My own 
possibilities of vituperation were only less 
surprising to me than the endurance of the 
abused. And all the time that I listened to my 
own reviling tongue, my sel£respect was ebb- 
ing from me most uncomfortably, — and it 
was all their fault. 

A concomitant loss in this dissolving of our 
civilization is that of the sense of humor. 
Being so recently returned from barbarism 
and its beyond, I can confidently assert that 
the ape and the savage, while they may be 
laughable, do not laugh. In the sickroom of 
the not very sick, the brightest witticisms 
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In Sickness and in Health 

seem only studied banalities. There is no 
comedy in the incidents of ministration; it is 
all unrelieved tragedy. Yet it is not the hu- 
morous, but the humor that is lacking, for fre- 
quently the situations are appreciated at re- 
covery, and furnish us amusement at intervals 
for a lifetime. I doubt whether this suspen- 
sion of the processes of humor could be es- 
tablished in the case of serious illness, admit- 
ting of disastrous outcome. There are soldiers 
a-plenty who have jested at their wounds, and 
instances enough on record where a timely 
jest or a merry incident has saved the day. I 
cite one such situation. A husband lay at 
death's door, and the door was ajar. It was 
midnight, and the wife watched. Suddenly 
the patient seemed to be sinking, slipping 
from her. She put the hartshorn bottle to his 
nostrils, but he could smell nothing. Both 
were terrified as they realized the import of 
this. Then the wife glancing down discov- 
ered that the bottle contained witch-hazel. 
The man laughed — and lived. 

In serious illness there is perhaps sometimes 
a positive stimulus to the comic sensibilities; 
there is such a thing as dying game, or the 
fight for life may be worth some bravado. But 
imagine feeling gamy with tonsillitis or a felon 
on your finger; there is absolutely no histrk 

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In Sickness and in Health 

onic appeal. If your sickness has no spice of 
fatality, you might just as well give up; you 
won't see the light of humor again until you 
recover. 

No love in our heart, no humor in our head, 
there is another evil of savagery thrust upon 
us by illness. It is the sudden acquisition of 
personality by inanimate objects. What pos- 
sibilities of abusive conduct lurk within the 
four walls of a room yesterday, in health, per- 
fectly inoffensive! What malevolence in the 
wall-paper! Such a sneaking, underhand, leer- 
ing pattern for curtains with any preten- 
sions to respectability! How tipsy the books 
look, crowding and pushing themselves askew 
for very perversity! No amount of chastise- 
ment will make the pillows conduct them- 
selves comfortably. There is something about 
the billows of that malicious counterpane that 
makes me think of the oozy, oily, shiny un- 
pleasantness of the ocean when the sailboat 
is becalmed. I am as much at the mercy of 
my furniture as any Fiji before his fetish. 

Thus sickness reduces us to cave-dwellers 
or gorillas rampant, by perhaps just a day of 
pain no greater in compass than one's little 
finger-nail, — soulful, strenuous, high-step- 
ping beings though we are! Sad enough to 
think about; yet on the other hand, of all 
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In Sickness and in Health 

insupportables, the people whom sickness 
makes saints are the most contemptible. I 
know men and ladies, in health normal, hu- 
man, unworthy, likable, — ■ but give them so 
much as a cold in the head, and at once their 
smile smacks of Heaven, and their eyes are 
uplift with the watery mysticism of those 
about to be canonized. When a small boy I 
know voluntarily allows his younger sister a 
canter on his rocking-horse, his nurse imme- 
diately applies red flannel and turpentine; 
generosity with him is a sure presage of sore 
throat. I have seen great strapping lads, full 
of sin, reduced to sudden and spurious saint-* 
hood by a black eye. There is no more un- 
feeling conduct than patient suffering, — 
there is nothing more alarming to an anxious 
family than a course of virtuous endurance 
obstinately persisted in. So long as you rage 
and are unseemly your kinsfolk will never 
pipe their eye, but docility under the minor 
physical afflictions makes a stubbed toe as 
much a matter of apprehension as angina 
pectoris. This being good when sick is a bid 
for unmerited martyrdom. These gentle suf- 
ferers are likely to employ the emaciated voice 
of those who ail, knowing well that the bellow 
of rebellion is much too reassuring. I am glad 
I am not as one of these; sick, I throw things. 

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In Sickness and in Health 

Thus all mankind and all woman and child 
kind, too, are divided, though unevenly, into 
those who are better in sickness and those who 
are worse. The marriage service on examina- 
tion will be found to be a very canny docu- 
ment, and its compilers nowhere showed 
greater shrewdness than in just that little 
phrase which insures conjugal devotion in 
sickness and in health. For of some, sickness 
makes Mr. Hydes, and of others, Dr. Jekylls, 
and in the matter of spouses, how in the world 
can the contracting parties foresee, demon or 
angel, which will develop, or, having devel- 
oped, which will be better company? 



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VIII 

zAn Educational Fantasy 

TT THEN I look back upon a half-century 
V V of wasted life, I find that there are no 
years that accuse me of neglected opportun- 
ity more poignantly than those between five 
and twelve. If only I had had the foresight 
then to apply myself with earnestness to the 
tasks set before me! If only now I possessed 
those priceless stores of knowledge that I feel 
sure must then have been pumped into me! 
That I must have received abundant elemen- 
tary instruction I feel confident, although I 
do not in the least remember receiving it. My 
purely academic activities at this period re- 
main wrapped in obscurity, while other mem- 
ories are lively enough. I distinctly recall the 
scientific invention displayed in our efforts to 
produce new shades, and colors in the soapy 
water wi(h which we cleaned our slates. It 
was I who discovered that the yolk of an egg 
well beaten made a more satisfactory admix- 
ture than butter, even though both are equally 
yellow to begin with. I remember how one may 
by judicious spooning out with a pin, extract 

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iAn Educational Fantasy 

the inner riches of a chocolate drop without 
visible disturbance of the outer crust. De- 
spite my scholastic indifference, I can have 
been no sluggard, without spirit, for of my 
fifty coevals there was not one who could tag 
me in the open except Percy Dent alone, and 
that only (but in my wisdom I never let him 
discover the fact) when I would let him; well 
do I recollect with what eclat, with what flut- 
ter of petticoats and pinafore, I could execute 
a pas seul at hop-scotch. These attainments, 
the thrill of which still warms me, prove me 
not without ambition; — 

" Not for such hopes and fears, 
Annulling youth's brief years, 
Do I remonstrate," 

but for 

" Those obstinate questionings 
Of sense and outward things," — 

such as the multiplication table, and the capi- 
tal of Arizona, and the difference between an 
adjective and an adverb, — questionings so 
obstinate that I am convinced that not even 
at ten years old did I know the answers; hinc 
ilia lacrinus. 

To some extent it is possible to go back and 
piece out the stitches dropped in the course of 
an education; only, one is not allowed to go 
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<*y€n £ducational Fantasy 

back so far as I desire. Roughly speaking, I 
should say that life does not allow one to re- 
learn what one has failed to learn before six- 
teen, whereas it is the knowledge belonging to 
eight years, and ten and twelve, after which I 
hunger and thirst. I wish some one would open 
a school for able-minded but ignorant grown- 
ups. Believe me, enough of us could be found 
to attend, enough of us glad to jump down 
from our college chairs, to leave ouf labora- 
tories with their clutter of advanced research, 
our counting-houses with their problems, and 
gladly go to school, gladly learn once and for- 
ever how much nine times thirteen is, and 
build Vesuvius past and present out of clay, 
and follow out of doors some charming young 
lady who would tell us exactly what the birds 
and the wild waves are saying. 

But I stipulate at the outset that f will 
have no offensive superiority in my instruc- 
tors. If I am to learn as a child I will be treated 
as a child. I will have no one caviling at me, 
for instance, because I do not know when 
Washington was born. I never did know when 
Washington was born, but I desire now to 
amend this my iniquity of ignorance, and I 
am even minded, if only my teachers will be 
patient, to plod on from the Revolution to the 
Civil War, and to learn the succession of bat- 

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dAn Educational Fantasy 

ties thereof, and which side won them. I wish 
my instructors to understand that my humil- 
ity of spirit needs no augmenting on their 
part. I wish them to be as sweetly patient 
and cheerily maternal as they would be to my 
daughter's daughter. I wish my teachers to 
administer boundary lines but mildly, and to 
give me their minimum doses of mental arith- 
metic; for in mathematics and geography my 
mind is willing but weak. I think I could 
promise that patience in my instructors would 
have a reward in a proficiency of piipil such 
as they could never hope to win from the 
iniquitous immature, on whose preoccupied 
minds and thankless hearts they squander 
such devotion. 

What a joyous picture it is, as I conjure it 
up, this going to school again! What hap- 
piness to slip out of our grown-up households, 
and go forth into the morning, with book- 
strap and luncheon in hand, to meet by the 
way our harried and over-busy acquaintance, 
men and women, some whiteheaded in ignor- 
ance, perhaps, all skipping and dancing along 
to the same glad place. Gleeful, we enter a 
sunny room with geraniums on the window- 
sill, bright maps on the wall, and a beautiful 
young lady at the desk. We are no longer 
hard and hardened children: our hearts as 
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&/fn Educational Fantasy 

well as our intellects are softened by the de- 
bility of age, and we appreciate the gracious- 
ness of our instructor with the rose in her belt, 
the milk of human kindness in her eye, and 
the carefully preserved smile upon her lips. It 
is with responsive smiles of gratitude that we 
feel arithmetic and history and geography 
trickling into our craniums from the cranium 
of our teacher. Then, when she feels that, 
still willing, we are perhaps grown weary with 
well-doing, she gives a signal, and with one 
accord we raise our cracked voices in ecstatic, 
yet instructive song, in which perhaps we are 
poetically informed of some new fact about 
the firefly, or the green grass, or perhaps our 
own gastronomy, or in glittering phrase we 
unweave the rainbow into the colors of the 
spectrum. Or, to forestall the ennui resulting 
from our too earnest effort, our instructor bids 
us stretch our cramped, rheumatic limbs, and 
with graceful contortions of her lithe young 
body, directs us as we prance stiffly through 
a calisthenic exercise. 

But it is not on these diversions that my 
fancy lingers most fondly, but on those more 
solid parts of our education. How happy I 
should be, for example, if I could only add, 
both in my head and on paper! How many 
bewildered and distrustful moments would 

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thus be eliminated from my existence! And 
if to a proficiency in addition I superadded 
an adeptness in subtraction, then perhaps on 
some proud day might my opinion of the bulk 
of my bank account approximate more nearly 
the opinion of the cashier. And if my rudi- 
mentary bump of mathematics were carefully 
manipulated according to the newest system of 
educational massage, I might even progress 
as far as percentage. I might learn how to be 
richer if I could once understand the allure- 
ments of compound interest. So much de- 
pends on the attitude of mind that I wonder 
whether, if I approached fractions in a spirit 
of friendliness rather than of enmity to the 
knife, they would reward me by allowing me 
an entrance into their intricacies, so that I 
could with impunity buy things on the bias, 
or estimate the reduction by the dozen of mer- 
chandise that tags a half-cent to its price when 
purchased singly. There are, besides, other 
valuable facts to be gleaned from the study 
of arithmetic, the possession of which would 
be matter for gloating. How proudly I should 
proclaim to some ignorant companion of a 
country stroll the number of feet in a mile! I 
should be happy to know under all circum- 
stances the number of ounces in a pound, 
grocer's or apothecary's: how exalted I should 
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be if I knew the exact amount of a scruple, 
that being a fact of which I am sure most 
of my friends are ignorant. An exhaustive 
knowledge of weights and measures would 
not only entitle one to distinction among one's 
acquaintance, but would open up many new 
avenues of interest in one's daily life. 

History is another of the subjects for which 
I hanker; not history as it is administered to 
me now, spiced for the mature palate, with 
philosophy and evolution, the ebb and flow of 
tendencies, but history for the infant mind, the 
bread and milk of history, as it were. I have 
sometimes thought that historic research 
would be easier for me if sometimes I knew 
what men did before I was forced to under- 
stand why they did it; and a simple state- 
ment of what the actual fact is under con- 
sideration would clarify for me much of the 
historian's discussion of cause and effect. I 
have a distinct conception of the develop- 
ment of the great and glorious English peo- 
ple, but even such knowledge would be ma- 
terially strengthened if I were able instantly 
to sort out all the Henrys and Edwards and 
stow them away in their proper cubby-holes 
among the embarrassment of decades. As to 
my own respected fatherland, I have discussed 
intelligently the growth of the spoils system, 

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<±An Educational Fantasy 

skipping from presidential term to presi- 
dential term with all a grown-up's airy supe- 
riority; but ask me by whom and when and 
why North Carolina was colonized, or just 
what Captain John Smith was about when 
Pocahontas intercepted the executioner, and 
you have me, I want to study history at last 
fairly and squarely, out of a dapper little 
textbook that I can stow away handily in my 
brain, with fine fair outlines at beginning and 
end of it, and all important events made 
salient by heavy type, and a brisk brushing 
together of one's information by a resume 
after each chapter. Such a primer would 
greatly assist xjae in my study of the meta- 
physics of history. 

Yet perhaps I do but hanker after impos- 
sibilities; perhaps this school I so happily 
image forth would refuse to teach me what 
I want to know. Possibly such information 
belongs only to the period of my negligent in- 
fancy. Perhaps my charming young teacher, 
exuding the wit and wisdom of the newest 
normal school, would refuse to stand and de- 
liver the knowledge I long for. If I desired 
the facts of the French and Indian War, I 
might merely be set to building wigwams and 
drawing braves in war-paint with colored 
crayons on the blackboard. Perhaps after all 
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d/€n £ducational Fantasy 

there is nobody left who knows how to teach 
the things I have forgotten. For example, do 
they now acknowledge in the primary curri- 
culum that fair, old-fashioned study called pen- 
manship? I yearn to be put once more into a 
copybook. I long to set forth once more wise 
saws in round v's and unquestioned i's and 
fs. My fingers long since became callous and 
conscienceless to distinguish t from /, b from 
p 9 and I wish somebody would reform the 
rascally old digits. It would be a great relief 
to my friends and myself if I could only be- 
come legible in my old age. 

One branch of knowledge little emphasized 
in my youth, however, I could be sure of re- 
ceiving at the hands of my fair instructress of 
to-day, — I refer to that varied information 
known as " nature-study." I am greatly de- 
ficient in nature-study. I own to an unanalyt- 
ical habit of mind as regards out-of-doors. 
So long as the wild flowers make a glory at 
my feet, I have never cared much to 6hred 
them into pistil and corolla and stamen. So 
long as the small fowls make me melody, I 
have never cared to know the color of their pin- 
feathers. But I would fain amend all this and 
die knowing something. I picture our band 
of eager grown-ups pouring over the country- 
side in the wake of our animated and instruc- 

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tivc conductor, — peering into the grass to 
lay bare the soul in the sod, blinking our old 
eyes to discover the bird in his coverts, cock- 
ing our dull ears to classify the notes of his 
song. I see us disporting ourselves over the 
landscape, busily seeking some curious knowl- 
edge, and then scampering back to our 
teacher with treasure trove of leaf or flower or 
pebble or captured insect. Sweetly she com- 
mends our application, and explains the exact 
nature of our find. We swell with knowledge 
momentarily, and return to more prosaic 
tasks elate, having hung its proper label on 
blade and bush, bird and bough. What a 
satisfaction it would be, after having lived 
with nature for a lifetime in awesome igno- 
rance, to feel that one had at last assailed 
her and ascertained her secrets! 

As a young child, I must have been singu- 
larly limited in mental scope; I cannot other- 
wise explain my well-remembered aversion to 
geography. Those parti-colored maps streaked 
with inky rivers, and bordered by the wiggling 
lines of the Gulf Stream, filled me with loath- 
ing. The revolving globe, and that oft-re- 
peated image which likens the earth to an 
orange flattened at the poles, seemed to me 
almost sickening. How bitterly do I repent 
my obstinacy! Besides, there is not one trace 
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dAn £ducational Fantasy 

left now of my former aversion. In fact, geog- 
raphy appeals to me to-day as if it were a 
brand-new branch of study, so well did I suc- 
ceed in not learning it as a child. I have tried 
ever since reaching maturity to make up my 
geographical deficiencies, but with small suc- 
cess. Often do I find myself relegated to the 
dunce-seat in the minds of the company pres- 
ent. Despite my constant effort, there are 
certain countries that always elude my grasp, 
notably Burma and New Zealand, and there 
is always for me an airy insubstantiality 
about the entire continent of South America. 
Within my own beloved country, certain 
rivers have a way of turning up in unex- 
pected States when I supposed that they had 
long comfortably emptied themselves into the 
ocean; and there are some cities which always 
flit with agility to and fro across the map. 

I wonder if my early antagonism to geog- 
raphy might perhaps have been due to a 
shrewd sense of its uselessness to me at that 
stage of my existence. Stay-at-home as I 
was, why trouble myself with strange lands 
until necessary? Yet I was lacking in fore- 
sight, and should be grateful now if only I had 
packed away some information against the 
day I should need it, whereas nowadays I 
find traveling without any knowledge of geog- 

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zAn Educational Fantasy 

raphy stimulating but inconvenient. This ob- 
servation leads me to a broader one on the 
topsy-turvy nature of our present educational 
sequence: those studies most astute and use- 
less we put in the college curriculum, and those 
most immediate and practical to the college 
graduate about to grapple with life, we rele- 
gate to the elementary school, where the chil- 
dren neither desire nor need to master them. 
I would suggest a turning about. Let the col- 
lege youth and maid who will suffer from a 
lack of practical arithmetic learn to add a 
column accurately; let the irresponsible in- 
fant sport with trigonometry and conic sec- 
tions. These subjects unlearned or forgotten, 
one could still go through life unfretted by 
the loss. So with other subjects forever lost 
to us because entrusted to the intelligence of 
careless infancy. I wo^ild teach geography 
and handwriting in the senior year at college, 
and put philosophy in the primary school. So 
would the young collegian go forth upon life 
well equipped, and not come to fifty years bur- 
dened with regrets for knowledge lost forever, — 
as I. I have kept afloat in higher mathematics, 
I have delved into the mines of science, I have 
trod air with many a prancing philosopher, — 
therefore who so well fitted as I to appreciate 
at last the peace of having a foundation! 



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IX 

<JWy Clothes 

IN the dear, naughty memoirs of Madame 
de Brillaye, not inaptly named by the au- 
thor the " Journal of a Wicked Old Woman/* 
you remember that scene in the pleasaunce 
at Chateau Vernot, where the turf was like 
fairy velvet and the trees were tortured into 
all manner of shapes unarboreal, — she liked 
to have her trees dressed, she said, — " There 
is something indecent in great naked branches 
sprawling the good God knows where." The 
little old lady is sitting with her great, old- 
ivory cane across her knees; she rolls it back 
and forth with her little old-ivory hands, 
while she scolds Aimee — as always. Aimee 
has just come through that brisk little en- 
counter of hers with de Brontignac, and 
seems to have allowed her raiment to look a 
little battle-worn. " Go dress yourself, baby," 
cries Madame Great-Aunt. " Will you let your 
very laces whimper? Into your rose velvet 
brocade, and your chin will be jerked up as 
if by a string. Gowns have healed more hearts 
than they Ve ever broken: the second, men's; 

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the first, women's. Now you think you have 
a soul; when you are my age, you will know 
that women are not souls, but dresses. I look 
back; my history is the history of my gowns; 
undressed, I do not exist; my clothes are my- 
self." (A few lines above I used the word 
" remember," but merely for the sake of an 
effective start-off. Madame and her memoirs 
do not exist outside of this paragraph. I am 
not the first to perpetrate a spurious quota- 
tion; I am merely the first to confess it. To 
proceed.) It is not the first time that the 
little old de Brillaye has set me thinking. Is 
she true in this passage, or merely epigram- 
matic? If my history is the history of my 
clothes, let me so study it out, formulate, as 
it were, the meditations of the pupa upon its 
successive integumenta. Yet the figure is in- 
felicitous. In fact, the chrysalis image is not 
over-pretty as regards this side of eternity: 
pupa suggests the pulpy tenantry of the chest- 
nut; this worminess may be liturgical, but it 
is unpleasant, is opposed to that sociability 
with one's self which makes life entertaining; 
there is nothing chat-worthy in a worm. Be 
it granted me to regard these accidental rags 
of lawn or wool or silk I find adherent, these 
hardly less transitory hands and feet, this 
hardly more durable incasing occipital, not 
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(JMy Clothes 

as a worm incarcerate, but with the detach- 
ment and ufrtif t of the incipient butterfly. 

Why not my philosophy of my clothes, — 
the pronoun italicized, meaning not Teufels- 
drockh'p, but my own, both the clothes and 
the philosophy? Let me here and now make 
some effort toward system and definition, 
toward order out of chaos, in that long chap- 
ter in a woman's story, my lady's wardrobe. 
How far have these successive wrappings 
around and prankings out of diverse colors 
and tissues that are to my fellow passengers 
labels of my lone pilgrim soul, stating of what 
age, sex, nation, education, and caste I may 
be, — how far have these clothes of mine 
served for triumph or undoing in my spiritual 
history, the life-history of this " celestial am- 
phibian," myself? 

The clothes of babyhood first. It is a strong- 
minded adult who does not grow sentimental 
in regarding the garments of his infancy, — 
those caps and bibs and socks reminding us 
of the wabbling heads, the aching gums, the 
simian feet, of the days when we, for all our 
present arrogance of maturity, were the sport 
of colic and nutritive experiment. 

How explain the repugnance of the newly 
born to clothing, the birth-wail that pleads 
for the sincerity of the nude, protests against 

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the cloakings of convention? Strange para- 
dox that the first emotion of the baby soul 
should be bitterness against all those contriv- 
ances of decency, those hemstitched linens 
and embroidered flannels, through which the 
mother heart eased its brooding love. The 
little pink, squirming creature, fresh out" of 
eternity, cannot be too quickly incased in the 
wrappings of finite human care. That is why 
we are so long in seeing ourselves as we really 
are; all the clothes and the conventions were 
ready for us; before we had a glimpse at our- 
selves we were popped into them; it is a 
merciful long while before we are old enough 
to undress sufficiently to discover, away in- 
side, the little shy soul-thing, the naked ego, 
with its eerie eyes. 

Thus it is that when I first find myself in 
those early, misty recesses I see myself all 
dressed, dressed for company inspection; I 
am a little girl wearing a crispness of brown 
curl and a crispness of white muslin; I wear 
white stockings and Burt's shoes. — I recog- 
nize, also, quite in the same way, as envelop- 
ing facts, without which I may not present 
myself unclothed to my fellows, that I have a 
peppery, passionate temper, and an imagi- 
nation, — that is what seeing people in void 
air and talking to them is called. Thus clad 
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JMy Clothes 

and ticketed, I go pattering along the pil- 
grimage. 

How little clothes mattered then! All spun 
about with fairy films and the witchery of 
talking trees and singing winds, I did not re- 
member my clothes./ But at times clothes 
broke in abruptly oi? my unconsciousness. I 
well remember a certain mitten. It was a 
brown mitten on my left hand. My mother 
and I were walking down a flight of stone 
steps. I slipped; my mother caught my hand, 
retained, not it, but the mitten, and I bumped 
unimpeded to the bottom. My baby resent- 
ment against that mitten endured long. It 
was a surprise, a disappointment, this treach- 
ery of the accepted; so my clothes were not 
to be trusted; it was well to keep half an eye 
on them. The mitten episode marks a step 
in my spiritual adjustment; my clothes might 
at any moment go back on me. It is a lesson 
I have not yet found it safe to unlearn. 

In those days there was a plpasant interest 
attached to the Burt's shoes, — not when 
new and shiny, but later, when they had be- 
come well worn. Some unexpected morning 
I would espy a peering bit of white stocking 
looking out from the blackness of the leather 
toe. The hole being not yet so large or so 
alarming as the cobbler's charges, a piece 

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cJMy Clothes 

of black silk was adjusted over the stocking, 
the foot deftly slipped into the shoe, a dash of 
blacking applied to the whole, and behold 
only mother and I knew the difference. 

Penury as such was not yet known to me. 
The consciousness of shabbiness had not yet 
frayed the elbows of my soul. The device was 
merely interesting, beguiling the tedium of 
the sanctuary, and affording meditation on 
the ingenuity of mothers. 

Here succeeded several years of tranquil- 
lity in my relations to my garments, until, at 
the age of six, I found myself — infelix! — re- 
moved to a town possessing a bleak climate 
and many woolen manufactories. It was the 
custom of the house mothers to buy flannel 
by the piece direct from the factory, red flan- 
nel, hot, thick, felled like a Laplander, and 
the invention of Lucifer. Out of this flan- 
nel was cut a garment, a continuous, all* 
embracing garment, of neuter gender, in 
which every child in that town might have 
been observed flaming Mephistophelian-like 
after the morning bath. A pattern was given 
to our mother. 

The hair shirt — I laugh when I read! By 

definition the hair shirt must have possessed 

geographical limits of attack, but my flannels 

left no pore untickled, untortured; they heated 

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<JWy Clothes 

the flesh until scarlet fever paled into a mere 
pleasantry; and they soured the milk of ami- 
ability within me forever. The rotation of 
the seasons reduced itself to terms of red 
flannel. In the autumn, when the happy 
fowls and foliage alike moulted, shed the su- 
perfluous, when bracing October set the body 
in a glow, I alone of living things must be 
done up in flannel! And more, — did you 
ever try to draw on your stocking smoothly 
over a red flannel tumor at the ankle, and 
then attempt to button over the whole the 
shoe that fitted snugly enough over nothing 
at all? Did you ever tear off shoe and stock- 
ing, and, dancing red-legged and barefooted, 
cry out in frenzy that you would eschew 
breakfast and school, aliment and enlighten- 
ment, but never, never, never again would 
you wear footgear? Thus autumn. And 
spring, that season of vernal bourgeoning, 
was the time when I, too, like any other 
seedkin, slipped free of all stuffy incasings, 
and could sprout and spring in air and sun, 
clad in blessed, blessed muslin. I shall never 
forget the corroding bitterness induced by 
flannels. At times they absolutely reduced 
me to fisticuffs with my religion, so that filial 
piety, the ordaining of the seasons, and the 
very catechism itself, hung in the balance of 

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the conflict. I believe I can hardly over-esti- 
mate the spiritual detriment done me by my 
flannels. 

One incident of this, my first decade, I 
recall with mingled respect and envy: — 

" It is not now as it hath been of yore." 

" Choose," commanded my mother, " will 
you have a new dress this winter or i St. Nich- 
olas ' for next year? " I was stung at the im- 
plication that for such as me there could have 
been a doubt of the choice. " St. Nicholas," 
of course! A magazine doth not wax old as 
doth a garment, and besides, is not reading 
more than raiment? Alas for the high intel- 
lectuality of eight years old! If the choice lay 
now between the dress and the book, would 
I hug the volume and walk among my fellows 
gladly shabby? I would not. 

About at this same period we were visited 
by a family of strange little girls. There were 
three of them; they stayed three days, they 
changed their dresses three times a day, and 
they never wore the same dress twice. We 
regarded them as we might have regarded the 
fauna of Mars, — they were an utterly new 
thing. It was wonder at first, then pity, then 
wonder again, for we found that they liked it! 
Being little human animals even as we, they 
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<JMy Clothes 

would rather be tricked out in fresh frocks 
than play tag! What were we going to wear 
that evening, they asked. Why, how in the 
world should we know? Something clean, of 
course. Our visitors' bits of frocks were em- 
broidered, beribboned, bevelveted in a man- 
ner simply incomprehensible. What in the 
world happened when they got dirty? That 
visit filled me with prophetic misgivings; 
some day I should have to wear stuff goods. 
In a vision I saw the great gulf that separates 
the grown-up who cannot be put through the 
wash-tub from the child who can. Horror of 
the unwashable! " Shades of the prison- 
house," — Oh, no ! 

Just here the retrospect reaches the place 
where the road turned; I do not say, forked, 
for it was not a question of alternatives; I was 
a woman-child, and I had to keep on in the 
only way. Hitherto my clothes had been as 
much or as little myself as the down of the 
chick, or the fur of the rabbit. Providence 
and my parents had provided my apparel 
without the faintest solicitude on my part, 
leaving me free to attend to my body and 
soul. This could not long endure. It is the 
era of Mother Hubbards that bridges together 
the old time and the new. The Mother Hub- 
bard was so noteworthy, so startling, in fact, 

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t&ly Clothes 

after the trimness to which we were accus- 
tomed, this 

" Robe ungirt from clasp to hem." 

It swayed with a truly Hellenic undulation 
like the pictures in the mythology. I first ad- 
mired, then coveted, then teased my mother 
into making me one. It was finished just 
after dinner, and though it was yet early for 
dressing, I put it on, and turned out upon the 
street, which, to my disappointment, was 
empty of children. There I strutted, and 
swelled, and waited for the others to come 
and see, and was exalted, not recognizing the 
first shackles of my slavery. Now, first, I 
become acquainted with Fashion; now, first, 
I regard other people's clothes as the most 
important factor in the production of my 
own. Too truly it is the close of the first 
chapter, the end of innocence, the end of joy, 
the end of sexlessness. I am irrevocably a 
woman: imitation and emulation are hence- 
forth the distinguishing motives of my cos- 
tume. Now, first, I look in the glass to see 
my frock, and then I look a little higher to 
see that face and that mop of curls I wear, 
and I wonder what colors best suit them. I 
look at the eyes, too, and at the secrets they 
tell me, and I wonder what external clothes 
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<JWy Clothes 

and conduct are most becoming to those eyes 
and to that inner meshed personality they 
reveal. What is becoming! The word is epi- 
tome of all that the grown-up is and the child 
is not. 

The period of my teens was the period 
when my wardrobe was continually in abey- 
ance upon the higher claims of my educa- 
tion. It was not possible simultaneously to 
beautify my brain and my body. I acqui- 
esced in the circumstance, for the most part, 
with occasional fits of passionate revolt, and 
more or less constant misanthropy. I blush 
to recall that at one time the light which 
was in me turned to darkness for a year or 
more, and all on account of my clothes. I 
found myself at a great city school, I a shy 
little country waif, most curiously clad. I 
looked at the clothes of my compeers, and 
I locked my lips and my heart against all 
converse with my fellows, and I walked to 
the top of my classes in a desolation of spirit 
that was tragic. I would have exchanged my 
monthly reports with those of my most ad- 
dle-pated classmate if I could have had her 
clothes. Never since have I approached the 
intellectual achievement of fourteen; but the 
shabbiness of my motives was greater than 
that of my costume* The effect was not wholly 

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evil, but I here confess that I never should 
have learned Latin rules if I had been pret- 
tily dressed. I wanted to show those stylish 
misses that there was no backwoods brain 
under my backwoods hat — that was all! I 
attributed to others a snobbishness wholly 
my own, and for that once clothes came peri- 
lously near costing me all human joy in hu- 
man friendship. If my wardrobe had never 
bettered, I might now be a female Diogenes, 
— and incidentally have furnished meteoric 
display for a dozen universities. My clothes 
improved; I am not friendless, but dull and 
illiterate, and all through the shaping destiny 
of dress. 

This paragraph in my history yields me 
this much of philosophy as regards the influ- 
ence of clothes on the social relations. My 
dress, so long as it be not conspicuous for dis- 
order, disruption, or display, has much less 
effect on others than on myself. But as for 
myself, since I am a woman, and it is ordained 
of fate that I be forever subdued to what I 
wear, I shall never, except when I believe my- 
self suitably dressed, be able to look my fel- 
low creature in the eye with the level gaze of 
conscious equality which alone gains friend- 
ship. No woman was ever so proud as not to 
cringe in an ugly hat. No woman is ever so 
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it&ly Clothes 

happy as not to be made unhappy by her 
clothes. Let the dress reformers prattle to the 
breezes, — there is no exaltation like that 
of knowing one's costume stylish, becoming, 
and, if possible, expensive. Only by recog- 
nizing our limitations may we women success- 
fully cope with them; one's own respect is 
surest guarantee of other people's; for women 
self-respect is soonest secured by clothes: 
therefore, O women, dress! 

I have digressed from the contemplation 
of my girlhood, but I have not exhausted that 
time, for I have not touched upon second- 
hand clothes or long dresses. As a girl I was 
perpetually made over. I came to regard fresh 
material as something almost sacrilegious. 
Of all gift-horses, clothes are the most difficult 
not to criticize, and especially old clothes. 
My prosperous cousins did not possess my 
complexion, my tastes, or my figure, and yet 
I inevitably succeeded to their clothes, so 
that I came to watch their expenditures with 
morbid interest, and if they asked for my 
advice, the strings of my sincerity were se- 
verely strained by " a lively sense of favors 
yet to come." In such circumstances it is well 
to have in the family one who is mother, 
dressmaker, and genius, all in one, for only 
such a combination of inspiration and devo- 

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tion could have kept my head up in those 
days when I was always second-hand. 

To be honest, am I anything else now? 
What else is it to be fashionable? With brain 
or scissors every woman is snipping and clip- 
ping and cutting over other people's clothes 
to fit her figure; real clothes or clothes exist- 
ent only in the fashion papers or her dress- 
maker's brain, but what is the difference? 
Every woman wears what somebody else 
has worn. What woman would wear a dress 
she had not first seen on another woman? 
Old clothes, making over, copying, copying, 
copying, — dear me, how second-hand we 
women are! 

The years from sixteen to twenty are those 
years in a woman's life when dress becomes 
an ecstasy — as never afterwards. We al- 
ways look in the glass when we put on our 
hats, but at sixteen we look at the face, not 
the hat. It is not such a bad face to look at, 
at sixteen, with its eyes and lips of wonder. 
For some few years Heaven lets dress be a 
sheer delight, not the mere sordid comfort and 
decency of childhood, or the studied con- 
cealment of imperfections of maturity, but a 
revelation of the new self of which we are 
neither unconscious nor ashamed. It is but 
the working of natural laws; in the spring do 
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not the very trees prank themselves out in 
a vain glory of blossoms, do they not prink 
and preen in the mirroring water, arranging 
their leafy tresses, and bedecking themselves 
for the masculine regard of sunbeams and 
breezes? So girls, and many a one quite as 
unconsciously. The sap stirs and the leaf 
sprouts, and the stirring of the sap is a thrill- 
ing of new joy, and the leaf is a new and 
beautiful thing. What is it, what am I be- 
coming? Look in the glass and see. That is 
womanhood burning in my eyes, on my 
cheeks, — Oh, yes, sir, you may look, too, 
if you wish. When my skirts have grown all 
the way down, and my braids all the way up, 
then there will be coronation robes ready, 
and a kingdom, and a king. Now I am only 
a schoolgirl, but it is ^ill coming, coming, com- 
ing! Do you wonder that she counts each 
inch on her skirt in an agony of impatience, 
that she arranges her hair high on her head at 
night before her mirror? Schoolgirl nonsense, 
and something else. Then one day it is the 
hour at last, — it is the first long dress, cut to 
show the regal throat, trained like a queen's. 
The hair is piled up diadem-wise. The princess 
is ready. The color comes and goes, the slipper 
taps the floor — " I am all dressed for you. I am 
waiting. Come, Prince, hurry, hurry! " 

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But, O little Princess, it is not at all like 
what you think, really; so soon your long 
skirts will have ceased to tickle your toes 
with delight, and your coroneted tresses will 
seem to have grown that way. The Prince 
will have come, and you will have got used to 
him, or he will not have come, and you will 
have forgotten that you ever expected him; 
the clothes of womanhood will no longer be a 
rapture, but an obligation and a habit. You 
will find yourself wearing a personality re- 
stricted by that thing you have somehow 
acquired, called a style of your own, and 
restricted also by the style of all the other 
women in the world, so that you will find 
yourself wearing those dresses only, and say- 
ing those words only, that both yourself and 
others expect of you; it will not seem a very 
wonderful thing to be a woman, after all. But 
remember, Miss or Madam Princess, that you 
must still go on dressing, dressing, dressing 
to the end. 

What mockery to prate of the equality of 
the sexes when one sex possesses the freedom 
of uniform, and the other is the slave of 
ever-varying costume! Think of the great 
portion of a lifetime we women are con- 
demned to spend merely on keeping our sleeves 
in style! Talk of our playing with scholarship 

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or politics when we are all our days panting 
disheveled after scampering Dame Fashion, 
who, all our broken-winded lives, is just a 
little ahead! Yet dress-reform is the first 
article in our creed of antipathies, and I, for 
one, am last of ladies to declare myself a here- 
tic. I am not ungrateful for the gift of sex and 
species. Suppose I were a fowl of the air, — 
what condemnation of hodden gray, and soul 
unexpressed either by vocal throat or person- 
ality of plumage! Among things furred or 
feathered it is the male who dresses and the 
lady who wears uniform; that it is otherwise 
with human beings is due, I suppose, to some 
freakish bit of chivalry on the part of the au- 
tocrat Evolution, the ring-master who puts 
the entire menagerie through their tricks. No> 
I would not be a fowl; let me not repine; 
let me at this business of dressing, pluckily. 

Women are nobler than men; it is because 
we are purified in the fires of more severe temp- 
tation. Man does not encounter the demoral- 
izing influence of the dressmaker, that crea- 
ture with mouth of pins and suave words. To 
what degrading subterfuge are we not re- 
duced to get our own way with the dress- 
maker, seeing with what delight and dex- 
terity she lifts her spurning foot against our 
desires! Do we presume to know what we 

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want to wear? — alternately she sporteth and 
scorneth — and yet we lift not against her her 
proper scissors. She practices dark arts; she 
runs an hypnotic finger along the seam, and 
the wrinkle is no more seen — until the dress 
comes home. Lies are about her head. Her 
promises are vanity, and her bills elastic as a 
fluted flounce. Counter-mendacity alone can 
move her; the gown must be sent home, for 
we attend a wedding in twenty minutes; even 
now the caterer "hath paced into the hall"; 
or we leave for California in an hour, and even 
now our sleeper paws the track. By the ways 
of unrighteousness alone may we be clothed, 
and yet so signal is female virtue that after 
centuries of dressmakers we are still un- 
scathed in our integrity, and are still the 
church-goers of the species. 

There is something stirring to contemplate 
in woman's devotion to dress, — to see how 
we lay down health and comfort, and clamber 
up and frizzle for a lifetime on the altar of the 
aesthetic. That is what our dressing is to us, — 
an art and an aspiration. If our sex doffed its 
radiance, and did on "blacks," what loss to 
popular culture! What of the universal hun- 
ger for color and form if so many curiosities of 
craft, so many animated works of art no 
longer whisked about the streets of the world? 
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For another reason, also, we are preoccu- 
pied of our costume, — our invincible frank- 
ness; for we would have our clothes the ex- 
pression of our souls. With what fondness we 
cling to the frock that suits us! Such a bundle 
of subtleties is woman that words are too gross 
— a black coat and trousers an insincerity — 
for the hundred shades of shifting color and 
form that we are inside. Though it take half 
our life, let us be true to our clothes, our 
clothes to us; let the dress be the lady, and the 
lady a symphony of soul and silk. 

Verily, "my soul on its lone way" has trav- 
eled far from the days of babyhood, kicking 
against all wrappings, to the days of woman- 
hood, when personality exists not, separate 
from frocks and hats and gloves and shoes, 
and both the inner layer of individuality and 
the outer layer of costume have become cosy 
and comfortable, so that by no means do I 
wish to lay them aside. 

What next? Some day I shall be given into 
the hands of those who 

" fashion the birth-robes for them 
Who are just born, being dead." 

Shall I be again enfolded in garments all ready 
for me, of skyey tissues and opalescent tints? 
Shall I squirm and struggle again, and again 

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be slowly subdued to the clothing and conven- 
tions of another world? 

Or when I pop up the lid of this uphol- 
stered bone-box, my body, shall my soul be 
then and there set free, — escaped, volatile, 
elemental, as wind or moonshine, having cast 
from it — one by one as a garment — age, sex, 
race, creed, and culture? But what if in this 
off-shedding I strip from me my personality, 
myself? This involuted wrapping in which I 
am duly done up and ticketed and passed 
about among my acquaintance, — what if to 
rend this were to leave me in the shivering 
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The Tendency to Testify 

PEOPLE and periods sometimes think 
strange things about themselves. I am 
constantly astounded by the contrast between 
my view of my friend and his view of himself. 
Tact is the bridge that spans the chasm be- 
tween a man's opinion of himself and his 
neighbor's opinion of him. In truth each 
opinion suffers from the lie of the label. There 
is nothing so volatile as human personality, 
yet it has a passion for ranging itself in bottles 
on a shelf, each with its little gummy ticket. 
If the peril of the pigeon-hole is great for the 
individual, it is even greater for a whole period, 
which is but the aggregate of personalities, 
each of them only a breath, a vapor, the shap- 
ing of a cloud. 

One of the largest, loudest labels with which 
we placard the present age is its irreligion. 
Because we don't build cathedrals? But let 
any one of us look about into the hearts of 
say twenty of his immediate friends: are there 
no churches building there? As for me, I am 
quite dinned by their hammers, and often, 

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The Tendency to Testify 

when I want to steal into some one's soul, for 
a little quiet communion, I am incommoded 
by the obtrusive scaffolding. No religion? 
Never so many religions, and from that very 
fact, never so genuine. Obviously, if you 
make a religion yourself, it's your business to 
believe it. There is an analogy between clothes 
and creeds: you wear with a different air those 
your father has bought for you and those you 
have earned for yourself. 

I do not find people indifferent to religion, I 
find them profoundly responsible for it; my 
friends stand each at the door of a temple ex- 
acting tribute, although there is not one who 
would not be horrified by the blatancy of the 
metaphor. They do not call themselves reli- 
gious, but they do call to me to come in. The 
trouble perhaps is with my listening ear. I 
was born with it, and without my will, or 
knowledge, it has become an inconveniently 
obvious appendage. It takes a great deal of 
time to have a listening ear. It has heard so 
many creeds of late that I must perforce 
counter-label this irreligious age devout. I 
am not inventing the list, and I do not believe 
the variety among my acquaintance excep- 
tional, — Neo-Hellenic, Neo-Hebrew, Catho- 
lic, Christian Scientist, Episcopal, high, hot, 
and holy, Episcopal, low, hot, and holy, Swe- 
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denborgian, Baptist, Presbyterian, and, latest, 
a sect that scorns a name, but that I would 
call Destinarian. Miss Sinclair is of this com- 
munion, for, in "The Three Brontes," does 
she not call upon Destiny to account for every 
mystery of those three strange lives? The 
religion of the Destinarian consists in not hav- 
ing one, yet not one of my friends pronounces 
so reverently the name of deity as my friend 
of this no-faith murmurs the word, Destiny. 
"It is ordained," she says of some circum- 
stance, and says it with awe, the humility be- 
fore omniscience with which the Hebrew 
prophets spoke his name Jah. 

There they stand, my twenty men and 
women, beckoning me to the doors of their 
temples; and yes, of course, I go in; it saves 
argument. I go into each and each friend is 
so busy pointing out the architecture that no 
one ever notices when I slip out, out into the 
open. When one stops, to think of it, it is curi- 
ously old-fashioned and orthodox, the open, 
whether it is sea or sun. The planets are con- 
spicuously conservative, but the morning 
stars still sing together. 

Now, not one of my friends here listed is 
that good old-fashioned work of God, a shout- 
ing Methodist, and yet, in effect, there is not 
one of them who is not exactly this. As a child, 

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I attended camp-meetings, I heard people 
testify. The tendency to testify is older than 
camp-meetings, and it will outlast them. To- 
day, though long grown-up, I find my friends 
still shouting their experiences, I find myself 
still the shy and wondering congregation. As 
in the word "camp-meeting" there is military 
reminiscence, so the "professor" is lineal de- 
scendant of miles gloriosus, his survivor in the 
church militant. A puzzling number of peo- 
ple still like to exhibit their scars; a larger 
number like to exhibit the particular philo- 
sophic armor by which they — by implication 
— win in the battle of life still ever merrily 
waging. But he who shows a scar deserves 
another, and no sword ever equally fitted two 
hands. 

It is the implication that I resent in all testi- 
fying, — super-sensitive doubtless. I do not 
want to be converted. I grow shy and secret 
when I suspect my friend of wanting to re- 
model me to the pattern of his creed. The 
most perilous thing in friendship is to let a 
friend know that we want to reform him. The 
very essence of friendship is in the lines, — 

" Take me as you find me, quick, 
If you find me good! " 

and in a recent dedication to one who was 
"Guide, philosopher, but friend." In all testi- 
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The Tendency to Testify 

fying, there is an implied "Copy me," which 
our own skittish ego resents. We all incorpor- 
ate in ourselves our friends' virtues, but only 
those of which they are most unconscious; 
whereas people are always conscious of their 
battles; they always want to talk about them; 
and yet how many different ways there are of 
winning the same battle. If I admire your 
bravery, I may copy the creed that created it, 
but you need not hold up that creed for my in- 
spection, for it is you yourself who are under 
my inspection. You are your sole argument, 
you need no testifying. 

I have been much talked to of late, and 
much talked at. I have seen the fanatic spark 
in eyes that would have been aghast to know 
its presence there. Once upon a time there 
was only one church, and excommunication 
from that was a simple and straightforward 
matter; it can hardly be an irreligious age 
when one can feel, in listening to the testi- 
mony from the score of temples one's friends 
have built, that one is in danger of being ex- 
communicated from all twenty. But better 
excommunication th'an that, entering and 
accepting, I, too, might feel called upon to 
testify. 

I, too, could testify, — I, a mere sunwor- 
shiper. I could point out the vaulted sky of 

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The Tendency to Testify 

my private chapel, most ancient and most 
orthodox. I could repeat for you the liturgies 
the wind has made, much the same that it 
chanted for Moses on Sinai; for are any of 
your creeds so new, my friends? I could point 
out to you altar-lights genial and tolerant, the 
taper-flames of stars. There was once One 
long ago who went to the mountain for prayer, 
for there is nothing new about the temple of 
out-of-doors; but if I, its worshiper, do not 
carry forth some peace from its great silence, 
some joy from its godly mirth, then would not 
even my infinite temple shrink to the size of 
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XI 

Letters and Letter-Writers 

IT is a popular fallacy that letter-writing is 
a bygone art. Arguments for this opinion 
point to the array of picture-cards expressing 
every sentiment known to experience, and 
saving, by the neatness and dispatch of their 
machine-made couplets, all the fumbling 
effort we used to expend in saying thank you 
to a hostess, bon voyage to a friend, or even in 
offering sympathy to one bereaved. The 
night-message also seems to indicate a sorry 
substitution for the formality of the post. The 
truth is that the picture-card, by doing the 
work of the duty letter, clears the way for 
the real letter, so spontaneous that it can't 
help being written; while the night-message 
contributes to epistolary art a terseness and 
vigor that should not be undervalued. While 
we continue to look back at the voluminous 
eighteenth century and to regret the decay of 
letter-writing, we are every one of us every 
week receiving from a dozen different corre- 
spondents letters vibrant with personality, 
vivid, readable, inviting preservation. Far 

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Letters and Letter-Writers 

from not writing letters, people never wrote 
more letters than they do to-day, nor better 
ones; if ours are not so long as the letters of 
the past, they are far livelier. Both in theory 
and in fact the present time is peculiarly fitted 
to be epistolary. 

If each one of us will examine that packet of 
letters we are loath to destroy because they 
have made us see pictures or think thoughts 
or chuckle with appreciation, we shall pause 
to ponder how diverse in character are the au- 
thors. One missive, guiltless of grammar, is 
racy with backwoods wisdom; another shows 
the rapier wit and apt allusiveness of the Hel- 
lenist; another is as crisp and keen as the type- 
writei^that clicked it forth; still another peals 
with freshman skylarking. It is not at first 
easy to perceive underlying all the variety the 
essential characteristics which belong alike to 
all these correspondents and which differen- 
tiate that happily constituted being, the born 
letter-writer; man or woman, young or old, 
educated or illiterate, certain qualities he must 
inalienably possess. 

The letter-writer is always an observant 
person. He has the pictorial eye and the pic- 
torial pen. The view framed by his window 
sash must never grow stale for him, across it 
the clouds must always roll as if across a 
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painter's canvas, and its commonplace roof- 
line must keep always its quaintness and its 
quirks. Of the groups of people that crowd 
his day, he must see each as if staged for a 
play, he must perceive the color of hair and 
the cut of clothes and the connotation of atti- 
tudes as vividly as if he were always seated be- 
fore a rising curtain. This freshness of vision 
varies in different people. It is always found 
in every good letter, but of the writers, some 
require the stimulus of an unusual scene; 
while they have not the power to see or to 
paint the pictures of Dulltown Center, they 
can portray Tokio or Archangel till it glows 
on the wall before the reader's eye; others, 
more really gifted, see drama everywhere, even 
if they have never been twenty miles from 
their own farm and forest. Whether our cor- 
respondent is stay-at-home or traveler, he 
must so combine his gift of observation with 
his gift of representation that his angle of 
vision is unique. We have all of us received 
narratives of travel that were colorless as 
guide-books and narratives of a village sewing 
society that were palpitant with portraiture. 
The true letter-writer makes us feel not only 
that we have been present at a scene but that 
we have been present with him. 
The genuine epistolary endowment shows 

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Letters and Letter-Writers 

qualities in pleasant poise. A letter should be 
personal, but not over-personal. A self-analyst 
may cover many pages of notepaper, but we 
read him only under protest, and drop him 
promptly into the waste-basket. We enjoy 
the record of personal observation just so long 
as it is balanced by detachment. We like to 
see our friend moving across the scene he de- 
scribes, but we don't want to see him bulking 
large in his own landscape. In a well-penned 
letter the people written about stand forth as 
vividly as does the author. It is this power 
of amused detachment that makes all true 
letter-writers true humorists as well. 

To write letters it is not enough to be ob- 
servant, objective, humorous : one must have 
the impulse to express the observation and the 
fun. This impulse is, of course, the literary 
will to write, but there is a sharp distinction 
between the litterateur and the letter-writer. 
The latter does not merely wish to write, he 
wishes to write to somebody. He is not lyric, 
for it is not enough for him to burst into song 
unheard; he is not a diarist, for it is not enough 
for him to talk to himself; he is not a genius, 
for it is not enough for him to talk to a vast, 
formless creature called the Public. A letter- 
writer is one who finds life so entertaining 
that he must talk about it to a friend. Never 
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Letters and Letter-Writers 

a self-sufficient person, he is as genial as he is 
shy; it would therefore no more occur to him 
to pour himself out upon paper that nobody 
was to read than to pour himself into print 
that everybody was to read. He has the lit- 
erary impulse without the literary ambition. 
He must be sure of his auditor before his pen 
will move, and yet when it once begins to 
gambol, it carries him off and away, after the 
manner of all pens, until the friendly listener 
becomes idealized from homely reality into 
very quintessence of sympathy. 

The individual auditor is not only the first 
requisite for the letter-writer, but the deter- 
mining influence that gives to letters them- 
selves the qualities which distinguish them 
from other forms of literature. Letters stand 
halfway between the formlessness of conver- 
sation and the formality of essay or fiction. A 
letter to a friend has this advantage over a 
chat with him, that you can choose the impres- 
sion you wish to make and make it without 
interference from the interlocutor's telepathy, 
or interruption through his rejoinders. Con- 
versation gives and takes, but a letter only 
gives, and gives exactly what it wishes, no 
more. In a letter one employs words, weaving 
them happily to one's will, but it is a mistake 
to suppose that conversation is much con- 

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cerned with words. It is a far more shifting 
and subtle thing than that, for mere speech is 
constantly supplemented or corrected or con- 
tradicted by the twinkle in our eyes, the taut- 
ness or tremor in our voice, the twisting of our 
lips. The attention of the listener is diverted 
by watching all these manifestations. While it 
has all the camaraderie of chat, the letter, in 
the clarity and singleness of its impression, is 
distinctly different from talk. 

The epistolary form differs as much from 
the memoir as it does from conversation. The 
diarist is a self-important person, talking to 
himself and to the future, and conscious of 
his effect upon both. If he is great enough, 
that effect is worth making, and we read his 
account of himself and his times with the 
reverence we accord to history. We do not 
read, however, with the pleasant personal 
warmth with which we peruse a letter, for we 
know the diarist is not speaking as comrade 
to comrade. We know and he knows that he 
is speaking to posterity. 

The letter has the advantage of not belong- 
ing at all to conscious or commercialized 
literature. It is not written to be seen of men, 
nor yet to be sold to them. It is literature in- 
timate, unintentional, overheard. In so much 
as it is personal expression, plus detachment 
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Letters and Letter-Writers 

but minus self-importance, and also in so 
much as it endeavors to adapt itself sym- 
pathetically to another person's interest and 
point of view, the letter strikes through the 
merely individual and touches deep and uni- 
versal feeling, thus in all its humbleness ful- 
filling the ancient dictum for art. The let- 
ter-writer, scribbling himself forth merely to 
please himself and his friend, is not con- 
strained by servility to the public taste; his 
medium allows him ease, fluidity, and a 
happy inconsequence, vital artistic qualities 
impossible to literature written to meet the 
market. 

Its spontaneity gives the letter scope for its 
particular achievements. Being written by 
friend to friend, it is free from both shyness 
and stiffness : it may laugh or cry, be sagacious 
or absurd, in full confidence of being under- 
stood. It rings true in its directness and in- 
timacy, and yet never descends to the morbid- 
ness that sometimes stains the revelations of 
the journal. The letter is intimate, but at 
bottom decorous. In a letter one wears one's 
old clothes in comfort, but one does not un- 
dress as in a diary. The presence of a friend 
to whom one may open one's heart is both in- 
vitation and wholesome restraint. 

The letter as literature is particularly 

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Letters and Letter-Writers 

adapted to description made piquant by per- 
sonal perception of lights and shades. The 
letter is especially fitted for quick portraiture, 
for flashing forth a face in an adjective, for 
touching off a character in the quirk of a 
phrase. Incidents also stand out by their 
very compression. Brevity is the soul of a 
letter, which is not saying that a letter may 
not be long. A letter can afford to be long, 
it can never afford to be diffuse. In the nature 
of things a good letter never flags because it is 
written by one possessing intensified vision 
and a vibrant pen. Such a person knows 
enough to stop before he is tired. The descrip- 
tion, incident, comment of a letter are forced 
to a concentration that gives them an advan- 
tage over more formal and expansive writing. 
People who are interesting enough to wish to 
write letters, people who are interested enough 
to wish to read them, must by necessity of 
character have much else to occupy their 
time beside their correspondence. The value 
of epistolary writing lies in the fact that it is 
not a grave concern, but an inviting side issue. 
Letters, like friendship, lose their charm when 
one makes a business of them. 

It is the greatest mistake to think that 
our hurried age is alien to the composition 
of letters. Haste is the best thing that can 
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happen to a letter; it enforces compression. 
Actually our own time is peculiarly adapted 
to produce letters. Its very hurry is inimical 
to sustained writing. Thinking people may 
put themselves into letters when they have no 
time to put themselves into books. Not only 
the rapidity of the present but its intensity 
stimulates letter-writing. Even the most com- 
monplace people are quickened to observa- 
tion and to thought at a time when tragedies 
are being unrolled before the dullest of us, and 
when every day is fateful with pity and fear 
for even the most obscure. Personal reaction 
to the portents of the present is not to be 
escaped, for never in history was there so 
much to see and to feel. 

As never before was there so much to see, so 
never before was there such an impulse to say 
something about it; but the immensity of our 
time prevents our speaking in any finished 
and final form. Our day is too vast for com- 
ment. All that we can record is our daily im- 
pressions; and how much more readily these 
fall into letter shape than into treatise or 
play or novel or poem! These four forms 
necessitate structure, analysis, synthesis; they 
presuppose penetration into the significance 
back of events. The letter is free from all these 
requirements, and therefore is better fitted to 

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express our times than, for example, the poem, 
which to-day, false to its old high calling, de- 
liberately avoids all divination, all guesses at 
the ultimate and the infinite. 

The letter, always humble, informal, in- 
consequent, need not strain to recount any 
but an individual reaction and interpretation. 
It aspires to no universal wisdom, and by its 
very modesty and sincerity may perhaps for 
the future furnish the truest historical record 
obtainable of a period too terrible to under- 
stand itself. 

One would naturally expect letters to be 
produced in an age which, bewildered as it 
is, is singularly articulate in regard to all its 
puzzles and its pain. Ease of expression was 
never so general as now. More people are able 
to say what they have to say than ever before, 
and more people are able to say it, too, with 
facility and with force. The newspapers are 
crowded by letters tingling with penetration, 
often memorable in phrasing, written by men 
and wom€n in every class and place. The 
level of intelligence and of expression was 
never so high. People are writing not only to 
the press but to each other better letters than 
ever before. Impressions are so intense that 
they compel utterance. One proof of the 
prevalence and popularity of letter-writing 

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to-day is in the many books and articles that 
are the chance discoveries of the mail box. 
For such revelations, such unintentional litera- 
ture, every editor is on the alert. The history 
of our time is being everywhere written to-day 
in the best letters that were ever penned; but 
for one such collection discovered, how many 
are fated to be fugitive always and unpre- 
served? 



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XII 

The Tyranny of Talent 

WE come into life handicapped by 
many a tyranny, but by none heavier 
than the insolence of that particular ability 
packed into our still imperfect cranium. Al- 
though one may observe in rare individuals 
the exhibition of a fine independence that 
from infancy to age consistently refuses to 
develop the dominance of some obvious tal- 
ent, for the most part we yield to the conven- 
tional views that defy such despotism, and to 
our own delight in that little toy, success, 
which the autocrat dangles before our eyes. 
The only people never disillusioned are the 
unsuccessful. Every time we succeed we take 
a tuck in a dream. Of all domains, the most 
desirable is the kingdom of dreams, and the 
only people who never lose it, who, rather, 
reinherit it from day to day, are the people 
who consistently and conscientiously fail. 

There are, however, only an enviable few 
of us who are not able to do some one thing 
well. It does not need, of course, to be any- 
thing notable. We need not be the fools of 
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The Tyranny of Talent 

fame, in order to taste all the depths of suc- 
cess. We may merely be able to tie up parcels 
with neatness and dispatch, — rest assured 
we shall be enforced to tie up everybody's 
parcels until we totter into our graves. Most 
households can boast a member with an abil- 
ity to find things; the demands upon the time 
and the resourcefulness of such a professional 
finder prevent her ever finding peace (a finder 
is, of course, always feminine). One could mul- 
tiply indefinitely examples from immediate 
experience that prove the argument for in- 
efficiency. 

The tyranny of talent has beset our path 
with many little proverbs that bark at our 
lagging heels. " Nothing succeeds like success " 
has hounded many a man to a desolate emi- 
nence. "Whatever is worth doing is worth 
doing well" is a maxim that we allow to con- 
trol our activities as thoroughly as we refuse 
to allow it to convince our intelligence: for 
obviously whatever is worth doing is not 
worth doing well; on the one hand the state- 
ment may authorize a wasteful and indis- 
criminate energy; and, far worse, it is mani- 
festly false, because everything that gives you 
joy is worth doing, and ten to one the thing 
that gives you most joy in the doing, is the 
thing that you do very ill indeed. 

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Superficially considered, success appears to 
be a consequence of self-expression necessarily 
gratifying; intimately experienced, success is 
found to be a consequence of self-repression 
most painful. The trouble is that one never 
knows in time. Often one goes gambolling 
into success unwittingly as a young animal, 
only to have one's first joyous neigh, or bray, 
of achievement cut short by feeling sudden 
hands bind one to a treadmill — the treadmill 
that impels one to grind out similar achieve- 
ments, tramp-tramp-tramp, all the rest of 
one's life. The worst is that no one ever sus- 
pects the excellently efficient middle-aged 
nag of still sniffing a larking canter through 
the mad spring meadows of the unattempted. 
Our best friends suppose the treadmill con- 
tents us. Yet we are always cherishing our 
own little dreams of a medium of expression 
better suited to our individuality than that 
skill with which nature has endowed us. 
Browning acknowledges the phenomenon in 
"One Word More," in noting the dissatisfac- 
tion of the artist with his proper medium: — 

" Does he paint? He fain would write a poem, -=- 
Does he write? He fain would paint a picture, 
Put to proof art alien to the artist's, 
Once and only once, and for one only, 
So to be the man and leave the artist, 
Gain the man's joy, miss the artist's sorrow." 
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The psychological experience described is 
more fundamental than its application in the 
poem merely to love and a lady. 

The harshness of a controlling talent is 
severe in restricting us not alone to what we 
can do well, but to what we can do best. If 
we paint, we must not only not write a poem, 
but we must not attempt a picture different 
from our best; if we write, we must continue 
to write in the type and the tone of our first 
successful experiment. The chef may long 
to be an astronomer, but not only must he 
stick to his flesh-pots, but if, in the gusto of 
some early egg-beating, he has stumbled upon 
the omelet superlative, he must continue to 
furnish the world with omelets, no matter if 
eggs become for him an utter banality, and 
no matter bow his fancy be seething with 
voluptuous dishes of air-drawn cabbage, or 
super-sheep. 

The world is too much against us if we try 
to lay down the burdens the task-master 
Talent has imposed. The successful man be- 
longs to the public: he no longer belongs to 
himself. Talent, tried and proved and ac- 
claimed, is too strong for us; we continue its 
savorless round, against all our inward pro- 
test. We are its slaves, and through the ami- 
ability ineradicable in most bosoms, the slaves 

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The Tyranny of Talent 

also of our admiring kinsfolk and friends and 
public; most of all, perhaps, the slaves of 
our own self-doubt, for possibly after all they 
are right, possibly we are justly the chattels 
of Talent, and not of that whispered self 
of the air, taunting, teasing us, "What you 
have done is sordid, is savorless! Come with 
me to attempt the unexplored!" This desire 
denied is both acknowledgment that all our 
lordly labeled triumphs may have had a false 
acclaim, and is also a protest against all mun- 
dane and mortal valuations. Our unshackled 
ego, scorning things done that took the eye 
and had the price, seems to have the truer 
voice. Is not art itself the assurance that we 
are no petty slaves of efficiency, but heirs of 
a serene domain where the unaccomplished is 
forever the only thing worth accomplishing? 



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XIII 

The Woman Who Writes 

I OFTEN wonder how other women write. 
Workers in art material are chary of re- 
vealing processes that might save other work- 
ers wasted effort and vain experiment, or, 
better yet, provoke challenge still more con- 
ducive to success. I venture to believe that 
any woman's literary product is a matter of 
constant, and often desperate, compromise 
between writing and living; and some ex- 
amination into the wherefore of this fact may 
throw light on the nature of writing processes, 
if not also on the nature of woman processes. 
Since there are scant data for analyzing the 
methods of other women writers, I give only 
my own, the experiment and experience of a 
woman who has chosen to earn a living as a 
literary free lance. 

Such conclusions must necessarily be per- 
sonal and practical, pretending to no theories 
except those made by immediate need. Driven 
to earn to-day's bread and butter, I really 
have no time to study the superiority of pre- 
historic woman in the struggle for existence. 

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The Woman Who Writes 

Nor can I give undivided attention to the 
achievements of my sex as promised by the 
feminist millennium, when my 9 a.m. prob- 
lem is to write a story that shall please 
some editor, presumably male. I do not know 
whether or not woman's intellect is the equal 
of man's; I know only that mine is not. 

While observation teaches me that every 
woman worker may gain by adopting to a 
certain degree the methods of men, the fem- 
inist promise of an eventual equal productive- 
ness is to me a promise barren, if true. So far 
as I can see, individual men and women have, 
alike, just so much vitality. If women devote 
this vitality to doing what men do, they will 
have just so much less to devote to being what 
women are. As a writer I aspire to write a 
book; as a woman I shall forever prefer to be 
a person rather than a book. 

In an examination into the psychology and 
methods of the woman writer, two things 
should be clearly kept in mind. The first is 
that of all professions open to both sexes, 
writing should furnish the most reliable con- 
clusions in regard to the relative accomplish- 
ment of men and women; for from Sappho's 
day to ours a woman has been as free to write 
as a man. Life is the only university in which 
a writer can be trained, and that univer- 
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sity has always been strictly coeducational. 
Neither have there ever been any restric- 
tions, commercial or social, to bar a woman's 
way to the literary career. It follows that 
any restrictions that exist must be imposed, 
not from without, but from within, must be 
due to the nature of the creature, physical, 
mental, and spiritual. 

The second fact not to be forgotten is that 
of all the professions practiced by women 
writing is the one most intimately affected 
by a woman's personal life and philosophy. 
It is far easier to detach yourself from your 
own dailyness for the purposes of music, 
painting, or science, than to separate your- 
self from the book you are writing, which is 
necessarily self-expressive. Consequently a 
woman's literary productiveness is far more 
precariously dependent upon her peace of 
mind than any other form of professional ac- 
tivity. There are too many mute Miltons, 
too easily silenced, among my sex; but on the 
other hand — a fact equally due to the fem- 
inine fusion of living and writing — history 
has shown, perhaps will always show, that 
woman's most valid intellectual achievement 
is in literature. 

As a writer-worker, I have found no way 
of getting even with my limitations except by 

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frankly shouldering them. The body my soul 
bears upon its back is a heavier burden to 
carry than a man's, and I find I cannot ac- 
complish the pilgrimage if I give up my own 
little jog-trot for a man's stride. All that hap- 
pens is that I lose my breath, and break my 
back, and have to lie down by the roadside to 
be mended. But when I do keep my own 
small pace, I have time and strength to pick 
a few fence-row flowers, too fine and frail and 
joyous for any striding man to notice. 

I turn sharply from my own figures of 
speech to Mr. W. L. George's airier fancies, 
to the most vital facts of feminine existence 
brushed so lightly by the masculine intelli- 
gence that it can say, " in passing, that we 
do not attach undue importance to woman's 
physical disabilities. ... I suspect that this is 
largely remediable, for I am not convinced 
that it is woman's peculiar physical condi- 
tions that occasionally warp her intellect: it 
is equally possible that a warped intellect 
produces unsatisfactory physical conditions. 
Therefore if, as I firmly believe that we can, 
we develop this intellect, profound changes 
may with time appear in these physical con- 
ditions." 

My own warped intellect, belonging to a 
woman who must write stories for a living, 
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points out that, if it has taken aeons of dif- 
ferentiation under the guidance of Dame Na- 
ture to accomplish my own personal physical 
disabilities, I can hardly afford to wait for 
aeons of differentiation under the guidance of 
Mr. George to accomplish my own personal 
physical freedom. 

Looking at things as they are, I find my 
body constantly pushing upon my work; but 
it is possible to treat a body with a certain 
humorous detachment. It is possible to say 
to yourself, this is a headache that you have, 
don't do it the honor of letting it become a 
heartache, your own or — far more fateful 
peril — your heroine's. It is quite practicable 
for a woman to live apart from her body even 
when it hurts, quite practicable to give it sane 
and necessary attention, while keeping the 
soul separate from it, exactly as if she were 
ministering to some tired baby; this course is 
one of the only two solutions I have ever dis- 
covered of the problem of preserving a work- 
er's spirit in a woman's body. The other solu- 
tion lies in the frank concession to certain 
physical incapacities as the price one pays for 
certain psychological capacities. 

A woman's talent both for being a woman 
and for being a writer is measured by the 
force and the accuracy of her intuitions. My 

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intuitions in regard to the people about me, 
when duly transformed into story-stuff, have 
a definite market value. If I did not pos- 
sess them, I could not conceive, make, or sell 
a single manuscript. Supersensitive impres- 
sions necessitate the supersensitive channels 
by which a woman's outer world connects with 
her inner one. If I will have woman's intui- 
tions, I must have my woman's nervous sys- 
tem. So long as I think telepathy the best of 
sport, I must consent to give house-room to 
its delicate machinery, even to the extent of 
keeping cool when that machinery gets out 
of order and buzzes with neuritis or neuralgia 
or insomnia. The additional fact is only super- 
ficially paradoxical, that when the woman 
worker takes the disorder of her nervous ma- 
chinery thus philosophically, it is much less 
likely to have any disorder. 

The fallibility of a woman's body seems 
beyond disputing. If a man does dispute it, 
it is because he never had one; if a woman 
disputes it, well, personally, if I can't be as 
strong as a man I should like to be as honest 
as one! The fallibility of a woman's intellect 
is a little more open to argument, but only a 
little. I keep to my primary assumption that 
I am not trying to see further than my nose, 
or to voice any observations but my own. 
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Among the men and women of history and 
among those of my vicinity, I cannot see that 
woman's brain is the equal of man's in orig- 
inality, in concentration, or in power of sus- 
tained effort. As a worker, I find that I can 
write for only a few hours and no more: be- 
yond that limit stands disaster for the woman, 
and, far more perilous, disaster for the writ- 
ing. In regard to my brain as in regard to my 
body, the primary condition of doing my 
work at all lies in recognizing the truth that I 
can't do so much work, or do it so well, as a 
man. 

In all matters that can be weighed or meas- 
ured, a man's endowment is superior to a 
woman's; but, on the other hand, a woman's 
endowment consists in the quality and the 
quantity of an imponderable something that 
cannot be weighed or measured. The chief 
difficulty about analyzing a woman's brain 
is that it is so hard to separate her brain from 
the rest of the woman, whereas men are put 
together in plainly discernible pieces — body, 
mind, and soul. 

The perfection of a woman's intellect de- 
pends upon the perfection of its fusion with 
her personality. A w^ati ^mounts to most 
intellectually whon §he amounts to still more 
personally. She e^jinQt move in pieces like a 

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man, or like an earthworm. It needs the whole 
woman, acting harmoniously, to write. A 
man can retire into his brain and make a 
book, and a good one, leaving all the rest of 
his personality in confusion; but a woman 
must put her whole house in order before she 
can go off upstairs into her intellect and write. 
It follows that a woman's artistic achieve- 
ment is for her a harder job than a man's 
achievement is for him, which would make 
the other fact — namely, that the woman's 
book when written is never so great as the 
man's — seem additionally cruel, if we could 
not discern that the best of women writers 
have, in attaining that best, reached not one 
result but two: impelled to clean all her spirit's 
house before she can feel happy to write in 
it, a woman writer achieves both a home that 
people like to visit and a book that people 
like to read. Is it not true of all the greatest 
women authors that we think of them as 
women before we think of them as authors? 

Of fiction-makers in our own tongue the 
greatest man is Shakespeare and the greatest 
woman is Jane Austen. In personal revela- 
tion both were signally reserved, the woman 
the more so, seeing that she did not even burst 
into the hieroglyphics of a sonnet sequence; 
but of the two our first thought of the woman 
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is "dear Jane," and of the man, "dear Rosa- 
lind" — or Beatrice or Mercutio. A man, 
possessing a separable intellect and an imag- 
ination so original that it can sometimes cre- 
ate what he personally is little capable of ex- 
periencing, may sometimes write one thing 
and be another; but not so a woman. On the 
other hand, has any woman ever attained such 
greatness that, at the mention of her name, 
we think of the books she wrote before we 
think of the woman she was? 

It is true that professional women who 
direct their toil on the conviction that a 
woman's brain is of the same quality as a 
man's sometimes produce work that approx- 
imates a man's, in quantity. But sober ob- 
servation of such women does not make me 
want to be one. I see them too often pay- 
ing the penalty of being lopped and warped. 
Again I cannot see that, while such women at- 
tain their Ph.D.'s and M.D.'s and LL.D.'s, 
they ever attain the highest rank in literature. 
Imaginative writing seems to demand inex- 
orably that a woman writer be inexorably a 
woman. On the other hand, I have reached 
as a brain-worker the conclusion that, while 
my head is different in substance from a 
man's, I get most work out of it when I copy 
a man's mental methods. My brain is a vague 

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and volatile mass, shot through with fancies, 
whimseys, with flashes of intuitive and illu- 
minative wisdom, and it is a task surpassingly 
difficult to hold all this volatility, this ver- 
satility, to the rigors of artistic expression, to 
the stern architectonics of fiction. To the 
degree that a woman shall succeed in impos- 
ing upon the matter of her intellect the method 
of a man's intellect, to that degree shall her 
work show the sanity and serenity of univer- 
sal, and sexless, art. • 

To impose upon a woman's intellect a 
man's discipline and detachment is excellent 
in theory; it is staggering in practice. Con- 
vention and his own will make a man's time 
his own. A woman's genius is for personal- 
ity, or achievement within herself; a man's is 
for work, or achievement outside of himself. 
Now it takes time to be a person, and it takes 
other people. A real woman's life is meshed 
in other people's from dawn to dark. These 
strands of other lives are to her so vital and 
precious that for no book's sake will she ever 
break them, yet for any book's sake she must 
disentangle them. A woman writer's life is a 
constant compromise, due to the fact that if 
she does not live with her fellows, she will not 
have anything to write, and that if she does 
not withdraw from them, she will not have 
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time to write anything. I do not know how 
other writing women manage their time. I 
know that to attain four hours a day at my 
desk means that I must be revoltingly stern 
with myself, my family, and my friends. One 
pays a price for retirement, but one need not 
pay too heavily. A solution lies in retaining 
those relations that mean real humanity, 
while cutting off those that mean only so- 
ciety: I do not play bridge, but I do play with 
children. 

Of course, it always seems plausible to 
solve the problem of time to one's self by run- 
ning off to some strange place, but this never 
works very well. The reason is that such 
isolation is sure to prove evanescent, so that 
you have to keep packing your trunk and 
moving on to new exile, because human ten- 
drils are so strong and stealthy that they 
push their way through the thickest walls you 
can build, and twine themselves, wherever 
you hide, about the fingers that want to 
write. In order to write a love-story of your 
own invention, you run away from some 
friend's too insistent love-story at home, and 
the first thing you know you are deep in the 
love-affairs of your poor little chambermaid. 
You escape home worries only to have some 
stranger's troubles batter down your hotel 

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door. You might as well stay at home and 
put up with the truth, that if you care enough 
about people to wish to write of them, you 
will care enough for people to wish to live 
with them, abroad no less than at home. 
Besides, boarding is bleak and blighting. If 
I were a boarding woman, presently I should 
feel too chilly to wish to write; my fancies and 
my fingers would be too numb for expression. 
I need a home with its big warm peace and its 
little warm frictions before I can feel cozy 
enough to want to chat with a pen. 

There is a somewhat different alternative 
to home existence; I have heard of communi- 
ties duly arranged for the requirements of 
writers, where they enjoy a kind of clublike 
privacy and security from interruption. But 
are not such communities confined to the near- 
great? Are real writers any more than real 
persons attracted by such an abnormal exist- 
ence? Writers who shun life and people are 
exactly the sort that life and people shun. 
Personally, I run away from an author when- 
ever I hear one coming. Of the really great 
ones, I am desperately afraid, and of the not- 
so-great ones, far more so. 

Writer communities imply too much of the 
placard. I wish I might never have to dangle 
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my profession on a label. I am always embar- 
rassed when I am forced blatantly to expose 
it — for example, to the frank questions of the 
doctor's secretary, or of a customs official. 
"Profession?" they ask, and I cringe before 
the admission, "I am a writer." I don't feel 
ladylike when I say the words. On such occa- 
sions I would give my entire remuneration for 
an "Atlantic" essay to be able to say, "I am 
a laundress." 

Personally, I am only too glad to forget 
that I am a Grub-Streeter, if only other peo- 
ple would forget. No matter how obscurely 
one has ever appeared in print, one pays the 
penalty of the pinnacle ever after. Surely one 
is no more responsible for the tendency of 
one's talents than for the color of one's hair. 
I write because I have found it my best way 
of making a living, — and also because I 
can't help it; therefore why cannot people 
accept me as simply as if I were a dressmaker? 
I should be embittered by the curious attitude 
of people toward the literary calling, if it were 
not as funny as it is puzzling. Once, at a tea, 
an imposing matron hurtled from the front 
door to my corner, crying out, "Can you talk 
as you write? If so, please do!" I was dumb 
with discomfort for the rest of the after- 
noon. 

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The subject of attitude toward the writer 
is worthy of digression and topical analysis, 
for there is a difference among friends, fam- 
ily, and general acquaintance. Now, it is not 
often that I wish to talk as I write, but the 
occasions when I do, while rare, are painful 
and urgent. It is precisely on these occasions 
that my friends fail me. Essays are a long 
while in being born, and while they are in 
process I would give much for some one with 
whom to talk them over. It is not after a 
thing is published that a writer needs appre- 
ciation: it is before, and especially before it 
is written. For twenty friends who will loy- 
ally enjoy anything I write, I cannot count 
three who will listen when I talk. Yet the 
ideas are exactly the same whether uttered by 
pen or tongue. No friend is so valuable as one 
ready to attend and sympathize during the 
incubation and parturition of an idea. And 
yet the majority, knowing too well the au- 
thor's temperamental uncertainties, are per- 
haps to be forgiven their preference to wait 
until the editorial christening. So much big- 
ger to most minds is print than person. A 
writer's best friends are prone to treat her 
with the affectionate inattention they would 
give to a Blind Tom. Yet I would rather my 
friends never listened to me, than that they 
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always did; it is much cozier to be considered 
an idiot than an oracle. 

If friends are prone to take the writing 
more seriously than they take the writer, her 
family, on the contrary, share her throes too 
intimately to take their poor sufferer lightly. 
Few authors experience the popular fallacy of 
a doting family audience. A shuddering appre- 
hension of the potential effect upon editor 
and reader makes kinfolk intensely critical. 
The agonies to which any sympathetic house- 
hold is subjected when one member of it is 
writing a book are such as to make them 
question whether any book is worth the price 
of its creation. A writer's family also lives in 
the constant, but usually groundless, fear of 
being written up. There is both humor and 
pathos when dear Granny retires into a cor- 
ner with some foible she knows you admired 
in infancy. Relatives are always a trifle un- 
easy in the presence of the chiel amang us tak- 
in' notes. I doubt if any success quite com- 
pensates for the discomfort of being blood-kin 
to a writer. True, a family can sometimes 
be discovered passing the book or magazine 
around among the neighbors, but they don't 
wish you to catch them with it in their own 
hands. Friends and family are alike in their 
complexity of attitude, being insistent that 

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other people shall admire you, but afraid of 
making you conceited if they admire you 
themselves. The danger of conceit can be 
safely entrusted to editors and reviewers, not 
to mention the disillusion that sickens any 
author on comparing the finished book with 
the fancied one. 

But if a writer is comfortably without 
honor among her intimates, she is more than 
honored by the attention accorded by chance 
acquaintance. The attitude of the average 
person toward print as print is enigmatic. 
Not all people place the pen on a pedestal, 
but all regard the penman as somehow dif- 
ferent. I once essayed retirement at a little 
village hotel. I was promptly established in a 
room made sacred by the previous occupancy 
of another lady author. Her name I had never 
before heard, although I heard it daily during 
my sojourn. Her sole producible work was a 
railroad advertisement of some remote gar- 
den-spot in California, but it had been enough 
to confer a halo, as well as to win more sub- 
stantial reward, for I afterwards found out 
that, solely for the literary aroma she diffused, 
the lady had been allowed to remain two 
years without paying a cent of board. Un- 
fortunately I did not discover the fact until 
I had paid my own board for two months. 
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The incident disproves the charge that the 
United States has no popular respect for the 
fine arts. 

Print is prone to induce curious revela- 
tions from strangers. You write, perhaps, a 
story that tries to be true to simple human 
emotions, and the next thing you know, some- 
body in Idaho is writing you all about his 
wife or baby. It is touching, but quaint. I 
have come to be a little suspicious of letters 
from strangers that purport to be simple let- 
ters of appreciation. I used to be very much 
flattered by them until my brief notes of 
thanks drew forth such unexpected replies. 
It appeared that the writers of the letters 
were writers of other works as well; they were 
sending these to me forthwith; would I 
kindly read and comment? My experience 
is, I gather, not unique. A writer-friend, 
whose published poetry is marked by peculiar 
sanity, has received from more than one un- 
known source effusions so bizarre that they 
can emanate from nothing .but a madhouse. 

It is easy to silence by silence these unseen 
acquaintance, but others nearer by demand 
tact. Among these are people who tell me 
stories they want me to tell. They never can 
understand why I don't use the material. As 
a matter of fact, raw romance striking enough 

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to impress the lay mind is much too strik- 
ing for a writer's employment. Truth that is 
stranger than fiction is what every story-teller 
must avoid if he is to write stories true enough 
to be read. 

What I more and more discover is that nine 
tenths of the people one meets want to write, 
that seven tenths of them have at some time 
tried, and that not more than one tenth of 
them perceive why they have failed. Since 
they think the impulse to write more dis- 
tinctive than its accomplishment, and since 
they feel that they have the impulse in all 
its glory, they regard with a half-contemptu- 
ous envy the person who actually does write. 
They regard creation as purely inspirational, 
and look askance at a worker who goes to her 
desk every morning like a machine. For all 
I know, they are right. A good many people 
think that the only reason they are not writ- 
ers is that they never tried to be. Others 
think they would have written if they had 
only been taught how, if they had had the 
opportunity of certain courses in college. 
Still others think there must be some charmed 
approach to an editor's attention. Who in- 
troduced me, they frankly ask. When peo- 
ple talk like this it requires some self-control 
to repress my conviction that any person who 
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could have written would have written, and 
my knowledge that the only introduction I 
ever had to any editor was made by my own 
manuscripts. 

Friends, family, and general acquaintance 
have, I find, one impulse in common, the de- 
sire always to hound down the autobiographic. 
They read, beam brightly, look up at me, and 
say, "Oh, here is Aunt Sarah's chicken-pen!" 
Actually it is an old well I. once saw in Brit- 
tany. "Oh, here is the story of old Mr. Gres- 
ham at his grandnephew's funeral. Don't 
you remember I showed you Elsie's letter 
about it ? " I never saw the letter, never heard 
of old Mr. Gresham, and the chapter in ques- 
tion describes the antics of a four-year-old 
at his father's wedding. 

"Here is Saidie Lippincott to the life!" 
I gasp, "Who is Saidie Lippincott?" 
"Don't you remember you met her at Rose 
Earle's tea when you visited me four years 
ago?" 

There is no possession people are so un- 
willing to let one have as an imagination. In 
private, friends will tear a book to shreds to 
discover some portrait they can recognize; 
and in the case of authors famous enough to 
be dead, critics rake the ground wherever 
they have trod in an effort to prove that the 

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folk of their fancy were drawn from the earth 
rather than the air. There seems no means 
of convincing a reader that in a writer's head 
are constantly a thousand faces he has never 
seen or heard of, all subtle with story, all 
begging for a book, and all so real that they 
often make his daily waking seem a dream. 

There is no denying that there is autobiog- 
raphy in all fiction, but the relation of the 
two is not so superficial as the mere introduce 
tion of facts and of characters from one's daily 
life. The actual relation of experience and 
its expression is deep and intricate, and, 
especially for the woman writer, pervasive. 
As one must adjust one's work to a feminine 
body, to a feminine brain, and to distinctly 
feminine social relations, so one must take 
into account as still more determinative a 
woman's spiritual characteristics. However 
potent the impulse to write, the impulse to 
live is deeper. I have dwelt on the negative 
side of this problem, the uselessness of fleeing 
to strange places to escape other people's 
burdens; but it is impossible to over-empha- 
size the positive side, the difficulties of stay- 
ing at home with the burdens that Provi- 
dence has provided. However intense the 
joys and sorrows of the people the woman 
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creates, the joys and sorrows of the people 
she loves will be still more intense. It needs 
both poise and vitality to be equal to the de- 
mands both of fancy and of fact. The mere 
external tangle of hours and seasons that 
any human relations necessitate is nothing 
compared with the spiritual tangle of one's 
sympathies. The instinct to soothe and suc- 
cor and the instinct to think and write meet 
in a daily, an hourly, variance. Heart and 
head are equally insistent in their demands, 
and equally vengeful if unsatisfied. Books 
cry to be written, and people cry to be loved, 
and to whichever one I turn a deaf ear, I am 
presently paying the penalty of a great un- 
rest and discontent. To preserve the balance 
of attention between the needs of her head 
and the needs of her heart is the biggest prob- 
lem any woman writer faces. I have discov- 
ered no ultimate solution ; it is rather a mat- 
ter of small daily solutions, in which at one 
time we sacrifice the friend to the book, and 
at another the book to the friend. 

Yet in any crucial choice a real woman 
chooses living rather than literature. My 
brain itself approves this yielding of intellect 
to emotions for the very simple reason that, 
if I don't thus yield, the emotions denied will 
avenge themselves on the brain, and the 

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book I write will be unnatural because I my- 
self am unnatural. 

Once I thought it impossible to write when 
people about me were in distress : I proposed 
to myself to wait until things should settle 
down. I perceived that things never do settle 
down; that for women who have human affec- 
tions, there will always be somebody some- 
where to worry about. It is rather inspiring 
to be a woman, because it is so difficult. With 
the winds blowing from evfery direction at 
once, one must somehow steer a course that 
will reveal alike to the reader who knows 
one's book and to the friend who knows one's 
heart, a halcyon serenity. 

A relative detachment from her own liv- 
ing is as necessary for a woman writer as 
an absolute detachment is stultifying. Since 
for a woman expression is fused with experi- 
ence, clean hands and a pure heart are for 
her the fundamental demands of art, and 
this fact means that she must be constantly 
scouring off her sense of humor with spirit- 
ual sapolio before she can effectively handle 
a pen. Be sure her philosophy will find her 
out in her book far more clearly than in a 
man's. 

The natural fusion of a woman's brain with 
her emotions, resisted, leads to intellectual 
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weakness; accepted, leads to intellectual 
strength. In the history of literature George 
Sand is the great example of a woman who 
won success by the masculine solution of 
detachment from experience, and Jane Aus- 
ten, the great example of a woman who won 
success by the feminine solution of identifi- 
cation with her own dailyness. 

I am inclined to think the latter by far 
the greater artist, just as I am inclined to 
think that in literature rather than in any 
other form of mental activity will always 
be found woman's highest intellectual achieve- 
ment, for the simple reason that woman's 
genius consists in personality, and for the 
expression of personality words are the only 
adequate medium. Jane Austen's example 
is the great encouragement for the woman 
who wishes to write without ceasing to be a 
simple everyday woman. Jane Austen was 
capable of a detachment that enabled her 
to write books that give no hint of the 
thunder of the Napoleonic wars even when 
she had two brothers on fighting ships. She 
was capable of an identification with her 
surroundings that enabled her to write nov- 
els of universal humanity and eternal artis- 
try and to keep right on being everybody's 
aunt at the same time. She was sane and 

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humorous in her novels because she was sane 
and humorous out of them. She achieved 
fame because she had first achieved person- 
ality. Still, her fame is only a thin frail fire 
set beside the effulgence of a dozen men of 
her time. 

Yet I would rather have been Jane Austen 
than Shelley or Wordsworth or Keats. It is 
perfectly just that men's books should be 
greater than women's, because men are will- 
ing to pay the price. Not to write "Mac- 
beth" would I willingly give up an afternoon's 
romp with a baby. As a woman I reckon my 
spirit's capital, not in terms of accomplish- 
ment, but in terms of my own joy, and a 
baby brings me more joy than a book. 

Men ought to write better than women 
because they care more; in a way women who 
write have the more impersonal outside-of- 
themselves impulsion, because inside of them- 
selves they don't care. I acknowledge the 
urge of writing and I am willing up to a cer- 
tain point to pay by means of a vigorous men- 
tal discipline and a certain self-saving from 
useless self-spending, but I don't pretend 
that writing satisfies me. Something de- 
scends upon me and says, "Write," and shakes 
me like a helpless kitten until I do write; but 
it's a relief when the shaking is over, and I 
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am left to the merrier business of merely 
being myself. In other words, I am a writer 
because I can't help it, but I am a woman 
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XIV 

^Picnic ^Pictures 

HER white house is the same, with a dif- 
ference. It was always a house fitted to 
the person like a garment, a friendly house 
with peace in the corners, a house warm with 
sun or firelight; yet I think we always used 
the house merely as a starting-place for pic- 
nics, for running away into the out-of-doors 
with a well-stocked basket. We are at best 
only reformed dryads, my friend and I, and 
I am not even reformed. I think perhaps 
that it was in like manner that we used our 
two selves, merely as a starting-point for pic- 
nics, for the leap into the infinite, the chal- 
lenging of space and time, the tossing of stars 
like play-balls from one to the other, always 
with the joy of the word shaping on the 
tongue to the gleam in a friend's eye. We are 
lovers of words, I and she. True we also had 
talk in the library, dusked with books, dead 
men's spirits packed shoulder to shoulder on 
the shelves. There was brave firelight in the 
library, and quiet candles, and there was also 
Xerxes. The great gray Persian curled on one 
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corner of the big desk. Even asleep he dom- 
inated the home in his sole masculinity. Yet 
to me he was sexless and sphinxlike except 
when he forsook his Oriental calm for strange 
gambols in the white moonlight, a bound- 
ing gray shape of a tiger grace. Sometimes 
Xerxes rose and stretched as if our conversa- 
tion bored him, sometimes his great purring 
drowned out the Occidental flippancy of our 
chat. He was more king than cat, and he al- 
ways made me a little uncomfortable, that 
Xerxes. To-day he is not dead but deposed. 
His place on the desk is usurped by a sturdy 
box of cigars. 

However happily we might talk in the li- 
brary we always knew we were better without 
a roof, for in the blood of the born picnicker 
there is something that must always be run- 
ning, dancing, flying. Out-of-doors, there 
were the little brooks to chuckle at us if talk 
delved too deep, and the pine-tops to fill all 
pauses with quiet music. We were the bet- 
ter picnickers because we lived for the most 
part in life's schoolroom. We counted our 
picnic days and sorted them into due order 
of excellence, some better, some not quite so 
merry, yet all very good. But lately I had 
begun to wonder about the picnics, for the 
difference in the white, hill-girdled house is a 

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husband. When our friends many we al- 
ways wonder about the picnics, for sorrow is 
always a third comrade to hold two friends' 
hands the tighter, and to keep their feet more 
closely in step; it is happiness that may sever 
and un-self people. 

This, our first married picnic, dawned as 
brisk and bright as any. The master is not 
with us. He departs each morning for a mys- 
terious place called "The Works." That is 
something I have always noticed in husbands* 
that tendency to go forth to "The Works." 
Somehow no matter how hard women may 
toil for their daily bread, they never seem to 
belong to "The Works" of the world. The 
white house bustles with picnic preparations. 
It has to bustle when Jennie is in it. Jennie? 
Well, Jennie might be called the steam-engine 
at the middle of the merry-go-round. Some 
day I think the world will grow wise enough 
to stop talking about the servant question, 
and begin to study the philosophy that is still 
often to be found going about wrapped in a 
maid's cap and apron. Jennie, a little person 
quick of foot, bounces up and down like a 
merry ball, and cries to the blue May morn- 
ing while she butters sandwiches, "Picnic 
time has come again! Picnic time has come 
again!" Yet I never heard of Jennie's going 
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on a picnic; do people ever know, I wonder, 
how much of other people's unselfishness must 
go to the making of anybody's Eden? 

The hall rocks to the bouncings and bark- 
ings of Mac, for he, too, feels picnic in the air. 
Mac is a newcomer, so is Peggy, the mare, 
ready tied beneath a tree to carry us over the 
hills and far away. When Adam came to this 
Eden, he brought his animals with him, a 
method much better than the Scriptural one, 
for it must have been a strain on any honey- 
moon, that influx of indiscriminate elephant 
and dinosaur, cormorant and anteater, and 
what not. The animals here were carefully 
chosen, Mac, the shaggy, clumsy, warm- 
hearted Airedale, and Peggy, high-bred as a 
lady of the old South, having all such a lady's 
charm and grace and fundamental loyalty 
touched with just the dash of deviltry con- 
sidered meet to spice the masculine palate. It 
is with the clatter of Mac's ecstatic barking 
as he plunges before Peggy's light hoofs that 
we go driving forth toward the blue, hill- 
swept horizon. 

There is a tentative venturesomeness about 
my friend's driving, for horsemanship with 
her is a recent accomplishment, and a proud 
one, to the zest of which Peggy contributes 
with a pricking of ears and a graceful dip to 

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the side of the road before every motor-car. 
Mac trots briskly in front or behind, or to the 
side. His path through life is one of friendly 
detours. He will never accomplish any great 
deeds in dogdom. He is one of the simple 
souls unconscious of their magnetism. There 
is not an animal by the roadside that does n't 
come ambling up to his genial little nose. 
Even a herd of Jersey cows lopes clumsily 
across the pasture to chat with him at the 
bars, and no dog, big or little, fails to wish 
Mac good-morning. 

It is the kind of morning for good wishes 
both for dogs and men. Knotted old farmers, 
seeing our picnic faces and picnic basket, grin 
and twinkle, sharing the May sunshine. The 
hills are a dim blue against a sky still softer. 
Boulder-strewn pastures, more brown than 
green, are starred with bluets. Far off there, 
below a shaggy stretch of pines, is a field so 
golden with dandelions that it quivers as if 
held by midsummer heat. 

We don't know where we are going; that is 
always the charm of our picnics, to follow the 
will of the road. It carries us past a sawmill in 
the wood. Its stridency and the tang of fresh 
sawdust strike sharp across the air fragrant 
with fern. Then the road is off again across 
the open, cleaving farms with their broad 
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greening fields. The meadowlarks ring out 
their calls to us. The bobolinks dart and dive 
and sing. I turn to my companion in sudden 
question: "Now that you are married to a 
woodsman, do you know anything more 
about birds ?" 

"Oh, no," she answers easily, "we know 
only the nice birds"; thus reassuring me that 
in her company I need fear, no more than of 
old, to meet any but the best bird society, 
robins and blackbirds and orioles and the 
other long-established families, and reassur- 
ing me also as to my fear that the one left be- 
hind at "The Works" might prove to be one 
of these bugaboo birdmen, of ..all beings the 
most subtly superior. In fact, it is very dif- 
ficult to extract good conversation from any 
kind of human encyclopedia, ornithological 
or other. 

Everywhere the cherry trees and pear are 
snowed over with white, but the apple blos- 
soms are unopened, turning to a deep rose 
amid the pale-green leaves. The orchards are 
nearly human in their individuality, whether 
they form a little battalion of old men, sturdy 
and gnarled and steadfast, or a band of 
little budding baby trees toddling up a hill. 
There are no great waters in this countryside, 
but many little glinting brooks, pattering 

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downhill beside our wheels, then meandering 
through meadows beneath their bushy wil- 
lows. We are minded to follow a brook and 
let it lead us to perfect picnic. It leads us, of 
course, up a hill and up, away from all farms, 
all valleys, into a deep woods road, hushed 
and strange, and at last beckons us aside from 
the road itself, with a twinkle of white birch 
stems, and the swirl of wild water, white and 
amber. 

It takes a long time to tie and blanket 
Peggy while I sit dreaming in the dappled 
shade beside the musical rush of water, 
haunted by my friend's own song that once 
set all this woodland madness to elfin rhythms. 
But my mood is interrupted by the thumping 
down of the stout picnic basket. She is smil- 
ingly tolerant of my dryad whimseys, but for 
herself, nowadays, she wishes to unpack that 
basket and get settled. It is for me also, per- 
haps, to be smilingly tolerant of the other 
dryad turned domestic; for me, brook water 
still has power to turn me dizzy and to make 
my heart stop beating. 

It is the same basket we used to carry, but, 
like the house, it has a difference. There is a 
great object concealed in ebony leather, and 
it is called the "wap-eradicator." The term 
is profoundly masculine, for a "wap" is some 
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evil-eyed foreigner who might disturb our 
picnic privacy, and his eradicator is a pistol. 
There is also a marvelous jackknife which I 
pause in unpacking to examine. It again is 
no lady's toy, seeing that it has not only 
all the blades a lady might require, but in 
addition a screwdriver and a corkscrew, a 
tack-puller and a can-opener. There is stout 
enamel ware in the basket, too, whereas we 
always used to carry china, feminine and 
fragile. Food, much of that, — but then we 
always did take food, for I have noticed that 
poets need a deal of victualing. In fact, roast 
beef is about the best thing you can do for 
anybody's imagination. One packet I myself 
put in for old sake's sake, despite her laughter, 
a yellow envelope packed with her typed 
poetry. "We'll never look at it," she said, 
and she generally knows. She pulls forth now 
some scribbled tablets, skeleton stories of my 
own, "Your little deedles," she designates 
them in genial contempt, and plants the cream 
jar upon them. 

Presently she is off to gather fagots for 
the fire, admonishing my absent-mindedness, 
"Don't let Mac eat the food before we do." I 
note how much handier she has grown in all 
wood-lore. To-day the fire needs no coaxing, 
also it's a much smaller fire than we used to 

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build. We used to have a scorching splutter 
for a wee bit of coffee. This fire goes briskly 
and to the point, showering us now and then 
with cinders, yet on the whole well-behaved. 
In other days we toasted our bacon on forked 
sticks, but there's a fine frying-pan now, with 
rings to thrust a rod into, tightening it with 
twigs. Bacon and eggs sizzle merrily, and the 
coffee-kettle boils its cover off. We sit smut- 
cheeked and zestful, and exhibit a great ca- 
pacity for sandwiches. There is much com- 
placency in our manners. Her coffee, she re- 
marks, "has seven kinds of sticks in it, but is 
perfectly potable." The fire, that low, leap- 
ing ruddiness against a gray boulder, is the 
best fire she "ever personally conducted." 
As for me, there is plenty of chuckle in me, 
too, but I am thinking, when shall we begin 
to talk, for was that not what we always went 
to the woods for? Somehow, what with build- 
ing fires, and brewing and frying, with eating 
and drinking, and giving Mac and Peggy to 
eat and drink, there has not been time for 
talking. That will come later, when we have 
packed away the sandwiches we could not 
eat, and given Mac his drink from our emp- 
tied coffee-pail, and Peggy her two lumps of 
sugar. Then surely at last we shall talk, 
about poems and stories, and all things writ- 
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able, and all things livable. Sometimes I 
think she guesses what I am waiting for and 
regards me with a twinkle, while she moves 
about light-footed, setting away our clutter. 
But afterwards she is sleepy, lying stretched 
in flickering shadow on the brown pine 
needles; and I, the picnic place has caught 
me again into its spell. Nowhere does spring 
come stepping so delicately as in New Eng- 
land. In other places there is more riot and 
revelry in the carnival of bursting blossoms 
and leaf. In New England spring has the 
face of a girl nun. There are white violets in 
our woods and white birch stems. The very 
light has a quality soft and rare. The sky is 
the Quaker ladies' own color. Across the 
swirling water that leaps down the rock path, 
the face of a hill rises high into the sky. It is 
all gray boulder and brown, with a film of 
pale green over all, touched here and there 
by the dreamy white of the shadbush. Nearer 
by, great boulders at the waterside below us 
are moss-covered, and across them the dap- 
pled shade of little leaves goes flickering. 
The beautiful tree shapes are unhidden, gray 
stems twining with brown. There is a satin 
sheen in the rod of light that lines each trunk- 
shaft turned to the sun. Just now, sailing 
from nowhere, across the green-veiled gray of 

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the hill opposite, there fluttered a white but- 
terfly. 

After a long time I touch the envelope 
packed with poetry, and move it tentatively 
toward my friend's hand. She shoves it 
quietly aside. Drowsy though she is, she has 
an eye open to watch Peggy's glossy brown 
head tossing down there in an amber-lit 
wood space, and to see that Mac does not 
wake from his nap, where he lies only half 
visible against the russet leaves he has chosen 
to match his coat. Nowadays any soaring 
talk may be interrupted by a hearty "Whoa, 
Peggy!" or a "Down, Mac!" It is no poor 
punctuation, no unworthy anchorage, for 
people whose feet have often ached from 
treading the tree-tops. 

She has tossed aside her poetry, but will 
listen to my stories. I am eager to tell her 
about all the new people in my brain. She 
brushes the cobwebs from their heads and 
from mine with all her old acumen, knowing, 
in all the spacious sanities of the married 
woman, that I need to write, while I, I know, 
too, that she need not. If we did not, each 
of us, understand, could there be any more 
picnics? But the pauses grow longer, filled 
with the voices of the water and the wood. 
The air is warm and drowsy, and at last she is 
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fast asleep, held close to the brown earth, and 
I, the other one, sit straight, my back to a 
stout pine, while my thoughts go wandering, 
gazing in at Eden, at all Edens. Everybody's 
path skirts so many Edens, of the women 
friends married, and the men friends married. 
Passing pilgrim-wise, one garners a walletful 
of reflections. Looking at my friend lying 
there asleep on brown pine needles, I know, 
as every woman must know, that she will 
never again need me in the old way, and, as 
every woman must be, I am far too glad to 
be sorry. The question for each of us, man 
or woman, outside the fence, is, Will he, will 
she, still come out sometimes into life's great 
open and picnic with me? That all depends, 
does it not? on the newcomer. If he, if she, is 
a petty person, there are no more picnics. If 
a man, moving in to possess all sky, all sea, 
every crack and cranny of the universe, still 
holds most sacred there that path of a wom- 
an's past which she walked, alone, to come 
to him, he will leave untouched all the little 
sunny picnic places, for any man big enough 
to deserve all a woman's past would be far 
too big to desire it; is not just that the secret 
of how to have picnics though married? 

And still my thoughts go wandering, pass- 
ing now from the "wap-eradicator" to all 

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that lies back of it, of our need for it. How 
fundamentally different the way in which we 
must both regard that great black pistol lying 
between us! To her it is a new toy, something 
she has recently learned to shoot, and deeper, 
truer, it is the symbol of a husband's protec- 
tion, while I see beyond it that great fevered 
army of the unemployed, those who work and 
want, whose presence makes a weapon neces- 
sary. In some way I cannot analyze, I know 
that I am vaguely glad that I am on their side 
of the fence; in both my work and play too 
far away from them, perhaps, and too forget- 
ful, still on their side of the ramparts of Eden, 
in that strange great world where no one ever 
is satisfied. 

That packet of poetry tossed to earth, to 
which no new poem has been added for many 
a month, — will she ever write again, and 
shall I be glad or sorry, I who know myself 
how a woman's writing is made? Yet hers 
is vital poetry, earth-warm and limpid as the 
song of the meadowlark. Curious how it is 
men who have best put women into words, 
men who have made the best bedtime lulla- 
bies for children; women have been much too 
happy to talk about it. Yet a happy woman 
with the gift of song, if she remembered, — 
if she could set to music the purring of her 
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kettle on the hob, the lilt of her sewing-ma- 
chine, — how the sunny words might twinkle 
on harder, stranger paths ! But if happy peo- 
ple remembered, could they then be happy? 
Oh, dear me, why must I be always asking 
questions ? The wind is blowing, and against 
that big frowning boulder a buttercup is bob- 
bing in the sun : how many times a day one is 
glad one does not have to be God, but only 
has to know Him there, behind this sun-and- 
shadow curtain we name Life! 

But my friend is awake, measuring the time 
of the master's home-going and ours. She is 
up, and running down to the waterside. I see 
her there, slender and tall, light-poised on a 
stone. Beyond her the opposite hillside looms 
high, green and gray. Above her ruddy head 
a shadbush bends itself, russet and white like 
her own woods-dress. As I look she tosses the 
water from her cup, and it falls in a great arc 
of sun-spray against the dusk of the woods. 

The home-going is as glad as the going 
forth, but quieter, with long shadows across 
the grass. We pass pools where tall trees 
stand with their feet in the water in the gold 
light of late afternoon, and all the motion- 
less brown water is bordered bright with 
marsh-marigolds. We stop at a watering- 
trough, and I must get out to undo Peggy's 

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check-rein, and to keep a hand on Mac's collar 
so that he will not tumble head foremost over 
the high rail. I hand up a cup to the driver 
seated, and we drink thirstily, all four of us. 

One farm has been happy with a spring 
paint-brush since our morning passing. Every 
flower-pot, box, tripod, and that curiously 
frequent flower-receptacle, the iron boiler, cut 
in lengthwise section, has been coated with 
dashing vermilion. Spring had got into their 
bones on that farm. 

Mac lags from time to time, and we have to 
stop to lug and heave him into the wagon, 
where he lies across our feet, a panting, rest- 
less lap-robe of warm Airedale. Now a curious 
social phenomenon occurs. The very dogs, 
which in the morning had nosed Mac in 
friendliest fashion, come forth and bark and 
howl at him in his present eminence. It is the 
old, old story of the proletariat protesting 
against the plutocrat. 

The green spring country is seamed by old 
stone walls. I do not know why an old stone wall 
has power to touch my pulses strangely, to set 
stirring dreams long prisoned. It is some for- 
gotten child association, I suppose, the feeling 
that an old stonewall gives me, exactly akin, by 
the way, to that of an old covered bridge, with 
its magic of mystery-shod hoofs at midnight. 
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Peggy's hoofs are swift, going home, and 
the road, although the same, seems twice as 
short as before. At one point we vary it, 
cutting across country through a wood of 
pines. Beneath the pines the earth is all 
brown unflecked by any sun, and the light is 
clear amber, except that at the far edge of the 
grove there are bright gold gleams through 
the distant tree stems. Above our heads the 
color is not brown; it is that strange deep 
gray-blue that makes mysterious the heart of 
a pine tree where the branches meet the trunk. 
We have not talked very much to-day, she 
and I, but here no one could speak any words. 
These seem the stillest woods in all the world. 
We draw rein. Suddenly from out uttermost 
silence there rings the chime of a thrush. 

But Peggy stamps and chafes, and Mac is 
panting. Were the animals urgent just like 
this, I wonder, when Adam and Eve longed to 
listen to some archangel's voice? 

It is Peggy's will that we get home. The 
master is there before us, and at the barn. 
That is another thing I have noticed about 
husbands, when they are not at "The Works," 
they are likely to be at the barn, if there is 
one. Jennie is flying about, singing to her 
feet to keep them lively while she makes us a 
dinner. Even when that meal comes I find 

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I am stilt dreaming, for I was not ready to 
come home. Afterward in the clear May 
twilight we move forth to doorstep and lawn. 
It is Peggy's hour for evening cropping. The 
master leads her about. Every turn of her 
head, every lift of her foot, is a movement of 
grace. In the gathering twilight, soft and misty, 
Peggy seems some beautiful horse stepping 
delicately out of elfland. Mac is tugging at 
the other end of her tether rope, and the mas- 
ter is somehow strung between them. 

The level meadows flow away before us. 
The deepening blue of the sky softly puts out 
the sunset. Suddenly, as at some signal, the 
frogs begin to pipe from the meadow pool. 
My friend crosses the dusky lawn to join 
those others. She moves at Peggy's head in 
her dim white dress. One star comes out. 

Across their heads I see, hardly discernible, 
the spires of the city, and its red earth-lights, 
and somehow, although I know all its fever, 
all its pain, I hear the far crying of its spirit to 
my spirit, cry of innermost comradeship, the 
call of Home. I rise now from my seat on the 
doorstep, signal of good-night. She comes 
flying to my side; of all the words she might 
say, she chooses that best one, "It was our 
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XV 

The Farm Feminine 

THERE are in my summer neighbor- 
hood three gentlemen farmers who are 
women. There is an implied distinction in the 
implied definition. The three I have under 
observation are quite different from those 
women farmers who have shouldered their 
husbands' acres when forced to do so by 
widowhood or other marital disability. This 
difference, among others that readily occur, is 
primarily the same as that between all actual 
and amateur farming, the difference between 
those who grow up out of the soil and know 
its tricks, and those who come to the soil 
from another plane, and don't suspect it of 
having any tricks. At any rate, the lady 
farmers of our neighborhood farm because 
they want to, not because they have to; 
otherwise, perhaps, they would not be in our 
neighborhood at all, although it is one of the 
loveliest in all the land. 

Somewhere between the lush luxuriance of 
the South and the beautiful austerity of New 
England lies Pennsylvania. This countryside 

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The Farm Feminine 

is rich in mellow old farms, far retired from 
railways. There are low, rolling hills and 
woodsy back roads. Houses are set far up 
grassy lanes, lined with trees. Doorways back 
and front are deep in shade. Barns are big 
and white, and spread broad wings over plen- 
tiful harvesting. Houses are white, too, of 
stucco or of stone, old, kindly, solidly built. 
To these shady bricked porches, where the 
roses clamber against gray-white walls, Wash- 
ington's colonials might have come clatter- 
ing up. Small wonder that women desiring 
farms should desire just this deep-verdured 
beauty, and no less wonder that the farms, 
many good miles from market, should be so 
abundantly for sale that any lady, eager to 
surround herself with fields and fowls, may 
readily choose her own particular frame and 
setting. 

The three have chosen, each according to 
her heart's requirements. Lady One is the 
lady of the flowers, and she is the youngest. 
Her throat is round and white, nor beneath 
the droop of her great garden hat is it too 
much exposed to the sun. She wears gloves, 
white ones and unique among garden gloves 
because they fit. Her shoes, her kerchief, are 
always freshly white, and her muslin dress of 
soft shade, lavender or blue, or sprigged and 
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The Farm Feminine 

flounced. She might have stepped forth from 
fancy's gallery where we all keep pictures 
hanging of gardens and of grandmothers. 
She herself may be dreaming of just such a 
portrait-picture. But don't think that she is 
a drone because she is perhaps a dreamer. 
There are no such flowers in thirty miles, and 
flowers mean tireless toil; they take more 
good soil-sweat than a whole field of potatoes. 

She chose her farm to fit her, it had run 
sadly seedy, but she retouched all its fading 
picturesqueness. The house is pillared, frame, 
low, and white. Small grilled windows wink 
with garret mysteries above the high porch 
roof, and all is deep in shade and set far back 
beyond low terraces with mossy flower urns 
and steps of cracked flags. There are trim 
green globes of box trees before the front door, 
and to the left is her garden of flowers set 
within a labyrinthine box hedge. Everywhere 
are roses, roses, — starry little yellow blos- 
soms, red, pink, white, roses whose very 
names are fragrant: Flower of Fairfield, Perle 
de Jardin, Baltimore Belle, Soleil d'Or, Crim- 
son Globe, Killarney. 

This lady's eyes are brown and too deep to 
fathom because she is still too young to be 
fearless. Her voice, her words, are sweet and 
friendly, but her eyes do not see you, they see 

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The Farm Feminine 

only roses, and in roses, perhaps, those deeper 
mysteries all women see in all growing things; 
her gloved hand can touch a rose as if it Were 
a little live face. 

Quite different, Lady Two and her farm. 
Here all is bustle and clack. Chickens, pigs, 
turkeys, kittens, ducks, puppies, calves occur 
so frequently that every day is a birthday. 
You could not associate Lady One with the 
farmyard; you could not associate Lady Two 
with anything else. True, her house has a 
front doorway every whit as picturesque as 
Lady One's, — a square porch where the 
lilies-of-the-valley push up through ancient 
bricks, and a great pine bears fruit of stars 
every evening, — but Lady Two is not there 
to see, for she is putting her chickens to bed. 
It is out on the great back porch with its 
pump and its grapevine lattice, on this porch 
and on the slope to the big barns below, that 
things happen. There is no rose garden. Lady 
Two has flowers, it is true, in hearty demo- 
cratic confusion and profusion; she loves 
them, too, but without subtlety, watering them 
and her tomato plants alike with the same 
splashing hand. Her vegetable -garden is the 
garden of her heart. She is a woman radiant 
with a hoe. 

Lady Two is tall and spare, tanned and 
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cheery. Somewhere she has a family, comfort- 
able and conventional, but somehow she has 
managed to slip off to a farm, away from 
them and all social claims, and thus at forty 
she remains a hearty, rosy boy, with quick 
hands, quick feet, and brown eyes full of zest. 
The farm keeps her a little breathless; she is 
on the jump all day, from the first imperative 
call of hungry chicks to the small-hour bark- 
ings of Gyp. It is nothing to hurry forth 
from slumber with lantern and comforting 
words to still her dog. If she should find that 
Gyp had been barking at some prowling evil- 
doer, she would not think first of her own 
nerves, but of Gyp's. 

Lady Two cares not for costume, choosing 
merely the nearest and the handiest before 
she hurries forth to her farm. Her hands are 
marked by sun and serviceability; could you 
succor a sick horse in gloves! In mud-streaked 
denim, hatted and booted like a man, she 
stalks the boggy pasture to recapture the 
black turkey-hen, an errant lady, who, in 
some atavistic dream, prefers to brood on an 
empty nest in the swamp, exhibiting a truly 
feminine propensity to combine a pleasing 
wildness with a perilous wetness. 

To Lady Two her farm means primarily 
fowls. Down the slope below the kitchen 

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The Farm Feminine 

porch they are housed with all modern im- 
provements, in brooders and colony house, 
and all manner of coops. Ducks waddle, 
geese strut, guinea fowl go trip-trip on feet 
too tiny. At feeding-time Lady Two is the 
center of a feathered mass, cackling, peeping, 
gobbling, quacking, creaking like rusty hinges 
as guinea fowl do. She might be a mother 
with a great group of happy, boisterous young- 
sters. Sometimes she stoops to pick up and 
inspect some tiny hurt chick. She croons to 
it with brooding tenderness. Babies, she calls 
the tiny things, and babies they are to her, 
all the little newly-borns of her farm, whether 
a pinky piglet, a calf that gambols awk- 
wardly, a little turkey that must not get its 
feet wet, a colt unsteady on stilt-legs, a beady- 
eyed yellow duckling, a plunging puppy lost 
among its own four legs, — babies alL 

Not for roses, not for chicks, that grow, 
both, beneath a fostering hand, did Lady 
Three choose her farm. Roses and chicks she 
has both in plenty, and tends them with her 
own hands, adequately and happily, but 
without absorption. She has outlived the 
need for absorption, so that the twinkle in 
her gray eyes is imperishable. She has also 
outlived the need for varied costume. Hers 
has the detachment and independence of 
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The Farm Feminine 

uniform, always straight-cut, gray serge with 
a straight-cut linen collar, and small crimson 
tie. Her dress has all a man's superiority to 
his exterior, but her choice of a farm reveals 
nothing masculine in her spirit. Her great 
farmhouse is built of brown stones set ir- 
regularly in clear-seamed white. There are 
big twin chimneys at right and left. There 
is a white tablet beneath the eaves bearing 
a date of Penn's time, but only the shell of 
the house is old, within all is remade to a 
mistress's liking. If in all women the root of 
all impulse is to be always making something 
that shall tangibly shape to the impress of 
each woman's separate self, then Lady Three 
chose neither flowers nor fowls, she chose to 
create for herself a home. Much-traveled 
herself, she found her farm far from beaten 
paths, lost down a grassy lane where a brown 
brook clatters and chuckles from out a hushed 
woodland. A business woman, so-called, ex- 
ecutive, successful, as any man, she chose, 
ten years ago, at fifty, her far-off farm. Her 
lawns are clear of litter as was her desk in 
her counting-room. Her house is heated, wa- 
tered, furnished in neatest and completest 
comfort. Many electrical devices, and her 
own ruddy health make her quite independ- 
ent of kitchen itinerants not like the mistress 

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The Farm Feminine 

inured to loneliness. Having read much, seen 
much, done much, known much, in her fifty 
years, she chose to spend the rest with her- 
self, in her home, a home where every chair, 
book, rug, picture speaks individuality, some 
quick quaint taste, some humorous little phil- 
osophy. It is a house warm with welcome, 
but genially self-sufficient. Of the three, this 
lady, wise and gray, is the only one who 
really sees you, and listens; the other two 
see only farm. Lady Three is not afraid to 
live alone with the stars out-of-doors, or 
alone indoors with her hearth fire. You can't 
be afraid of the lonely wind when you have 
long ago ceased to be afraid of yourself. 

Thus my three lady farmers; and now that 
question, Does their farming pay? All lady 
farming depends entirely on the quality of its 
male assistance. You cannot farm without 
a man; it has been tried. Help is an ever- 
present trouble, but the Lady of the Roses 
has not found this out, because she is still too 
young and too pretty. Whenever she steps 
far from her roses, it is to look at her sky 
rather than her soil. Unwitting she has power 
to turn that brute species, Hired Man, into 
a very knight of chivalry, jealous to guard 
every blade of wheat that springs for her. 
Busily binding, cutting, watering her roses, 
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The Farm Feminine 

she never even sees her servitors; but they see 
her, in all those frail fripperies of hers, while 
in the summer evening they linger, blue-over- 
ailed and bounden, just beyond her low hedge, 
to hear the sound of her voice in its sweet, 
absent responses. Her men know she does 
not see them, but perhaps they think some 
day she will perceive what tall corn she has, 
what sleek cattle. Does her farming, there- 
fore, pay? Yes, a little, which is as much as 
can be said for most farming. 

Quite different is the case with Lady Two. 
She has her hired men and her hired boys, 
big and little, and they all keep very busy, 
watching her, and they keep still busier de- 
manding that she watch them. She is a 
cheery, desirable comrade for any toil, their 
"Miss Katie," diminutive, both affectionate 
and superior, showing small awe for their 
tall boy mistress, in whose brisk capability 
they have, however, pride. They constantly 
call her to see them do it, whatever it is she 
desires. "Miss Katie," "Miss Katie," re- 
sounds from garden and furrow and hencoop. 
They cannot detach a setting hen, or churn 
the butter without her oversight, loudly bel- 
lowed for. They are children demanding that 
their mother shall watch their prowess at 
play. She wonders why her farm does not 

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The Farm Feminine 

pay; it is because of that expensive little 
name of hers, because of her "Miss Katie." 

Lady Three, — does her farm give her dol- 
lar for dollar? Precisely that, and that is all 
she asks of it. Her oversight is brief, ade- 
quate. Men have always worked well for 
her, they always will. She has the quiet 
mistress-mastery that every man recognizes; 
moreover, she has a bank account that every 
man respects. 

No, on the whole, lady farming does not 
pay, if you reckon success not by desires, but 
by dollars. From that point of view, only 
those women farm successfully who have 
at least once or twice in their lives possessed 
a husband and assimilated his manner of 
dealing with crops and with animals. Farm- 
ing qua farming, that is essentially man's 
work, but farming qua joy, that's a woman's 
discovery. A man farmer is never fused with 
his farm, because a man is not built to share 
earth's parturition. In some way or other a 
woman must be always creating, always 
bringing forth. If she is not a house-mother, 
then she must be slipping, sliding, something 
of herself into her roses, her baby chicks, her 
home. To be joyous, she must be putting 
forth shoots, blossoms, must be pushing 
down her roots. To be glad, she must feel 
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The Farm Feminine 

herself part of this great springing, growing 
universe. That woman who has chosen her- 
self a farm has done so that she may feel her 
head warmed by the life-giving sun and her 
feet firm in the fertile earth. 

If success lies in having what you want, 
then my three farmer friends have attained 
it. But sometimes I look at them and won- 
der, Is it what once they wanted? The Lady 
of the Roses, I am sure she has a story; I am 
not sure she will not some day have another; 
surely there are things her hands might touch 
fairer even than roses.* Lady Two has no 
story, and is too hearty and happy to note 
the fact, but when I see her lift in a strong 
brown grasp a yellow duckling, I remember 
there are heads even more golden and downy. 
Lady Three, cozily ensconced in her snug old 
farmhouse, looks back into her homeless past, 
forward into her unhoused future, fearless in 
the knowledge that whithersoever she goes 
she carries with her a serene personality that 
will always be shaping its whereabouts to 
fit it, but her eyes are bright with philos- 
ophies that might have sent forth sons and 
daughters to splendid living. Like my three 
friends who have found quiet in the morning 
call of the sun, in the coming of the rain on 
a thirsting flower-bed, on all the big little 

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The Farm Feminine 

concerns of a farmyard, I must lean back on 
the good green peace of the universe — a uni- 
verse which must have some stout principle 
of growth spiritual beneath its seeming waste 
of mortal energies, in order that I may not 
question why it is that the farm feminine is 
not, as it might have been, the farm mascu- 
line, the farm infantine. 



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I 



XVI 

<tA Little (jirl and Her grandmother 
AM always sorry for children who have 



never known what it is to have a grand- 
mother and a grandfather and an old moun- 
tain farm to visit, far away from everywhere. 
A little girl I once knew had all three. Her 
grandmother was the dearest grandmother 
I have ever seen. She was tall and stout, 
with a broad, comfortable lap, and her hands, 
as they stroked the little girl's head on her 
shoulder, were smooth and soft. The grand- 
mother's eyes were blue and full of mischief 
and fun and love. When she laughed she 
shook all over so that nobody looking at 
her could help laughing too; even the little 
girl, who was naturally serious. The grand- 
mother's cheeks were a soft pink, and her 
hair was black, faintly silvered. She wore 
it parted plain on week-days, but on Sun- 
days it was crimped. On Sundays, too, she 
wore her black grenadine, but on other days 
her dress was blue gingham with a long white 
apron. 
The grandmother lived on a farm so steep 

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<^A Little Qid and Her grandmother 

that it seemed always to be sliding down the 
mountain into the valley below. At the back 
of the house were a few acres of cleared space, 
and then beyond this the stretches of moun- 
tain woods. From these woods you could hear 
the call of. the whip-poor-wills in the eve- 
nings, and there were wildcats and bears there, 
too, perhaps, and rattlesnakes surely. The 
farm had been a wild sort of place until the 
grandmother took hold of it and tamed it. 
She had them build a line of white fence pal- 
ings between the house and the grass-grown 
mountain road. She would have the porch 
trimmed with clematis, and they had to 
build her a grape arbor, too, and swing a 
hammock under it. Above the whitewashed 
fence a row of sunflowers nodded, and within 
was a line of sweet-peas. In front of the house 
were two long flower-beds, bordered with 
mignonette. In one was heliotrope, in the 
other flowering red geraniums. There were 
other flower-beds, too, wherever the grand- 
mother could find a place for them, and in 
one was a tall plant of lemon verbena. The 
grandmother was always plucking a leaf of 
this and crushing it, and then clapping her 
fragrant hand over the little girl's nose. Such 
fun they had with the flowers, snipping and 
weeding and watering, their two gossipy 
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<tA Little Qirl and Her grandmother 

sunbonnets close together! Whatever the 
grandmother was doing, the little girl was 
always at her heels, except when she was 
tagging after her grandfather. 

All through her childhood the little girl 
used to make long visits at the farm. She was 
a queer little girl, not at all happy. Her grand- 
mother said she was "high-strung," but her 
mother and the little girl herself called it just 
plain "naughty." At any rate, she was al- 
ways losing her temper, and then crying for 
hours over the sin of it. She worried over 
everything that happened by day, and she 
was afraid of everything that might happen 
by night, and was always flying from her bed 
in terror of the dark. At last, when the little 
girl's cheeks would grow so thin, and her eyes 
so big and anxious that her mother was at her 
wits' end what to do with her, she would say 
to the father: "We must send Margie down to 
mother." 

Now the little girl's father, who was a min- 
ister, had very little money, and the grand- 
mother had less, but somehow they would 
do without things and do without things 
until they got the little girl safely off to the 
old farm, where she grew so brown and fat 
and jolly that her mother hardly knew her. 

The first of these visits was when Margie 

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<iA Little Qirl and Her grandmother 

was so little that she would have been a baby 
if there had n't been another baby at home. 
She remembers only one happening of that 
visit — riding high on the hay wagon, she and 
her grandmother, while her grandfather drove 
the mules. Margie thinks now that perhaps 
her grandmother did not enjoy that ride, for 
hay is hot and prickly, but whatever the little 
girl wanted to do, that the grandmother did. 
Another incident of that first visit her grand- 
mother used to tell the little girl afterwards. 
The little girl always wanted to help her 
grandfather in all his work, and often she was 
much in the way. Sometimes when there was 
hoeing that must be done, the grandfather 
would try to slip away unnoticed; then that 
tease of a grandmother would point out to the 
little girl how the grandfather's overalls were 
just disappearing around the corner of the 
house, and the little girl would snatch up her 
sunbonnet and her fire shovel, and run after, 
crying: "Wait for me, grandpa!" Then she 
would stand in the furrow right in front of 
him and pound away with her shovel, so hot 
and earnest that the grandfather had nothing 
to do but stand and laugh at her, and down 
in the doorway the grandmother, watching 
them, laughed, too, because she was teasing 
the grandfather and pleasing the little girl. 
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&/[ Little Cjiri and Her grandmother 

Another visit came the summer when 
Margie was seven. Her father was going to 
Convocation, and so could take her with him 
and drop her off at the grandmother's station. 
Margie wore a big sailor hat and a brand-new 
sailor suit. She was so excited all the way 
that she did not talk at all, and would not 
touch her lunch. At last, peering out of the 
window, she saw the old spring wagon and her 
grandfather holding the reins and her grand- 
mother waiting on the platform. Her grand- 
mother lifted her up in her arms, doll and 
satchel and lunch-box and all, and carried her 
over to the wagon: at home Margie was 
much too old to be lifted and carried. Seated 
between her grandparents, while her grand- 
mother held her hat and the mountain wind 
blew through her curls and her trunk bumped 
along at the back, all Margie's worries fell 
away from her — she forgot she was a sinful 
child, she ceased to think that the babies 
were doomed to drown in the river, that her 
mother would be stricken by dread disease 
and die, that her father would be run over in 
crossing the railroad track; and as for spring- 
ing from her bed in fear, that night and all 
the rest she slept so soundly that she never 
woke at all. 

Arrived at the farmhouse, the grandmother 

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d/€JUttle Qiri and Her grandmother 

would open Margie's trunk and take out all 
the little garments and think them the pret- 
tiest ever seen, because the little girl's mother 
had made them every stitch. From the little 
dresses the grandmother would select the very 
oldest, and then lock all the others away 
again. Down at the village store she would 
buy some coarse brown and white stockings, 
costing ten cents a pair. From a corner behind 
the sewing-machine she would bring out the 
sunbonnet she had stitched for Margie in the 
winter. It was blue check and had pasteboard 
slats that came out when it was washed. Thus 
equipped, the little girl might run free of the 
farm. She helped to feed the calves and the 
chickens and the pigs; she wiped the dishes 
for Minnie, the little Dutch maid, in order 
that Minnie might be sooner ready to play in 
the haymow with her in the long sultry after- 
noons through which the locusts shrilled; she 
went huckleberrying with her grandfather, 
pushing far into the mountain woods, always 
treading warily because of the rattlers, and 
coming home with a face smirched with purple 
under the sunbonnet; she took long drives with 
her grandfather along strange, still moun- 
tain roads. With him, too, she tried milk- 
ing: the cow-bells tinkled through the dusk 
of the long shed, and the air was fragrant with 
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d/€ Little Qirl and Her grandmother 

the hay and the steaming milk-pails, and the 
little girl tried with all her might, but usually 
she only succeeded in sending a fine stream 
into her grandfather's eye. On indoor days 
Margie would draw her little red rocker up 
beside her grandmother's knee and listen to 
stories. The stories were all about mysterious 
and unknown relatives, Cousin Letty This 
and Uncle Josiah That and Aunt Tirzah 
Something Else. Much of it the little girl 
did not understand at all, yet somehow she 
liked listening to stories, snuggled against her 
grandmother's knee, better than anything else 
in the long, blithe days, and the little girl felt 
sleepy very early here on the farm — she that 
was such a sleepless midget at home. 

After supper, while the light was still clear, 
her grandmother would undress her and put 
on her nightgown: then, when her hair was 
combed and her teeth brushed and her pray- 
ers said, she would wrap the little girl in the 
gray blanket shawl, and carry her out to the 
big rocking-chair on the front porch. There 
the grandmother would croon old songs while 
the little girl's head drowsed against her 
shoulder, and the summer twilight stole upon 
them. Sometimes the call of a whip-poor-will 
would sound out from the woods, or the 
roosting turkeys in the apple trees across the 

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<*,£ Little (jid and Her grandmother 

road would rustle and flap their wings, and 
sometimes the white moon would come gliding 
up the sky, seen dreamily through the clematis 
bloom. 

As the little girl grew older she could not go 
to the farm so often, partly because she took 
a full-fare ticket now, and partly because her 
mother needed her at home; but always, when 
she did go, she and her grandmother had the 
same old good times together, and Margie 
was still happier there on the old mountain 
farm than anywhere else in the world. She 
seemed to love her grandmother better now 
that she was old enough to think about her 
more. The grandmother had some funny 
ways. For one thing she would never sit in a 
straight chair at table, but always in a rocker. 
She would eat a little, and then sit back and 
rock a little, and sometimes, since meals at 
the farm were leisurely and chatty, she would 
fall asleep while she rocked, but she would 
never admit that she had napped a minute, 
not she. Try as you might, you could never 
get the grandmother a present that she would 
keep. She loved dainty things, but the pret- 
tier the gift, the more she would fall to think- 
ing how much it would please some one else, 
and so presently away it went. If the giver 
chanced to find her out, she would hang her 
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&/£ Little (jirl and Her grandmother 

hread and look much ashamed of herself, but 
all the time her eyes would be roguish. All 
the family teased her and she teased them. 
She would have walked miles for the sake of 
a good joke on any one of them, but her fun 
was always tender. One dearly loved joke 
she played every year. In October, when the 
mountains were wonderful in the blue autumn 
weather and the tang of burning leaves was in 
the air, a little family of Margie's cousins 
used to come out from their town house to the 
old farm for chestnuts. For days before they 
came the grandmother and Minnie would 
gather every chestnut and put away the treas- 
ure in a big bag. On the morning of the chil- 
dren's coming, the grandmother was always to 
be found scattering the hoarded chestnuts in 
great handfuls everywhere. Later in the day, 
when the children were shouting over the 
windfall, she would shake a threatening finger 
at the grandfather and Minnie if they dared to 
chuckle. 

After a while the little girl was quite grown 
up and had gone to college, where she had ac- 
quired a bad habit of studying herself sick. 
Once again her mother in desperation sent her 
to her grandmother. At the station the grand- 
parents had the spring wagon waiting with a 
cot bed; they laid the little girl on it and 

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itA Little Cjrirl and Her grandmother 

walked alongside up the mountain. That 
morning the grandmother and Minnie had 
been over all that mile of mountain road and 
had picked off every stone, so that the little 
girl might feel no jarring. Margie thought 
that the back of her head would never stop 
aching, but her grandmother nursed her and 
fed her and rubbed her, and wrapped her up 
warm and put her out in the sunshine; she 
told her that she must forget what the doctors 
had said, and that the mountain air would 
cure her, and so after a while it did. 

But there came a last visit. They found 
that for two years the grandmother had been 
ill with a terrible disease, but she had kept it 
a secret as long as she could. They sent her 
little girl to her for the last time. The grand- 
mother would always stop moaning when 
Margie came near, and sometimes she would 
rouse herself enough to sit up and tell her 
stories. She liked to lie in the hammock and 
have Margie swing her gently, and she would 
often send her down to the ferny spring for a 
fresh drink of water. She liked to take it from 
the old cocoanut drinking-cup, and almost 
always as she handed this back to Margie she 
would say, "Have you ever tasted such good 
water as this?" and always she was pleased 
when Margie answered, "No. 1 
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ey4* Little (jirl and Her (grandmother 

One day Margie had to go away to her 
teaching. Her grandmother got up from her 
couch and walked to the front door to bid her 
good-bye. They said very little, and they did 
not cry at all, only as Margie looked back 
from the turn of the road at the little farm- 
house and the valley and the circling moun- 
tains, at all the place she loved best in all the 
world, she knew that she should never wish to 
see it again. 

So the little girl's visits to her grandmother 
came to an end, like a beautiful book read 
through. But though it is never the same 
as the first time, one may read a book over 
again. The little girl has been grown up for 
a long time, but sometimes when she is tired 
and worried and frightened she turns back 
the pages of her memory. She is sitting on 
her grandmother's lap on the porch in the 
summer twilight. Her grandmother is sing- 
ing to her, and the great moon is rising be- 
hind the clematis. 



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XVII 

The Wayfaring Woman 

JUST when, for the first time, I was fearing 
lest some day the wizard-light might fade 
from my hilltops, because I had climbed them 
so often; lest some day people's eyelids might 
cease to be doors flashing upon mystery, be- 
cause I had seen so many secrets; and lest, 
sadder still, I might wake up some morning 
and find that my comrade-soul had forgotten 
to pipe me on to the new adventure of the 
new morning, — just when I was fearing these 
things, I bought a pair of rubber boots! 

They are real boots, real as all masculine 
things are real. They have straps, a new 
thing to me in footgear. They are deep and 
cavernous, so that I sink to the knee, and in 
them I am armored like a man, but yet a 
woman. Whimsical symbol, perhaps, my new- 
bought rubber boots, of adjustment to a man's 
free-hearted adventuring. If I am to tramp 
alone, let me be valiantly shod like a man, 
though a woman at heart, for is not all the 
world mine for the walking it? Who knows 
what new fun may be abroad for me now, in 
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The Wayfaring Woman 

my rubber boots? I was made for life's out- 
of-doors. I am a woman who wishes to walk 
this earth in all weathers, and indeed I have 
walked it in many, plucking by my homely 
hillpaths thoughts that are wayside flowers 
along a subtler way. 

I have gazed at my circling hills in many 
changing lights. I hate seen them on a moon- 
flooded summer evening lie shoulder to 
shoulder asleep about the broad valley pas- 
tures, while the tree-shadows wavered black 
against white farmhouses, asleep, too; and 
nothing made any noise except the brook be- 
neath my wayside bridge, and that, a merry 
brown human brook by day, went singing in 
the moon an elfin chant it had forgotten that 
it knew. I have seen my hills deepest blue 
at the skyline, and below all ablaze, beneath 
the racing white clouds of October, when more 
than at any other time the winding roads be- 
witch my feet, and every blackberry thicket 
and slope and fence-row is flaunting its ban- 
ners in my eyes; yet I cannot stop to gaze, for 
the air is of so keen a blueness; I must walk, 
run, fly, because of the urgency of October in 
my toes. 

But in the spring one's step slackens, and 
one stops to loiter and look at the green wil- 
lows that twist with the wavering course of 

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The Wayfaring Woman 

the swift muddy river; at the rosy mist on 
the maple-boughs, at sunny blue wings that 
flash against bare branches. In the spring the 
most insistent walker must pause by an arbu- 
tus bank. Last year's leaves upon it are still 
rimmed with frost and snow, and one's fingers 
grow red, poking beneath for treasure. But 
what largess of arbutus our humblest wayside 
banks hereabouts can yield, arbutus great- 
petaled, deep-pink, setting free what prisoned 
fragrance! 

I have tramped my climbing roads in win- 
ter-time, too, on those days of winter when 
the mercury sinks to the zero point, when the 
snow crunches loud beneath my heels, and 
the sun hangs high and cold, and the spangle 
glistens on crusted fields. But heretofore 
there have been days of winter when I have 
felt myself held within doors, days of slush 
and ooze, when the sky broods low, and the 
air is blind with great wet flakes; yet these 
were the very days when the gypsy wind 
came rattling the window-sash and piping of 
new wonders of grayness and of whiteness out 
there upon the hills. 

I who have packed my wanderer's wallet 

with the gentle secrets of summer nights, of 

springtime hillsides, and wintry sunshine, I 

who have always tramped to the call of a 

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The Wayfaring Woman 

lonely road, should I turn craven stay-at- 
home when life's wild weather draws my feet 
hillward through grim slush and sleet? Are 
there not new secrets waiting on the stormy 
hills? I am not afraid! I have put on rubber 
boots. 

In all this countryside I am the only woman 
who walks. Highroads and by-paths and 
woodways are mine alone, for here solitude is 
safe and cheery for the woman who goes un- 
companioned. I pass by unmolested, but not 
unhailed. Happily, I have reached the age 
when men greet me with level comrade eyes, 
and pass me merrily the time of day; at least 
the genial old codgers of our region do. The 
men of my home hamlet of Littleville are a 
bit proud of my pedestrian prowess, and if 
they meet me wandering far will draw rein to 
twinkle down and rally me: "Guess you're 
lost this time sure, ain't you?" 

The strangers I meet rarely pass me in 
churlish silence. I have had a man, never be- 
fore seen, bend down from his high-seat, his 
face all one pucker of concern, while he 
shouted to me in a high windy voice, " Hi, 
there, you're losing a hat-pin!" His over- 
spread relief as I adjusted it was but one in- 
stance of the intimacy ruling within the sweep- 
ing circle of hills that rim Littleville like a 

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The Wayfaring Woman 

cup. We are no strangers here, we comrades 
of the road. 

Yet in my walking I must often pay the 
penalty of being unique, of being an anomaly 
in country conventions. They are kind, our 
rural men-folk, but I think the kindest, pass- 
ing me, make a swift comparison between me 
and their kitchen-keeping women. In this 
inarticulate comparison there is a boyish 
flash of sympathy that I should find the out- 
of-doors the same jolly thing men do; but 
more, there is distrust of one who obviously 
enjoys the zest of her own feet as much as 
their wives enjoy jogging through life beside 
a comfortable husband behind a comfortable 
horse. Possibly the thoughts of rural men- 
folk are not so different from the thoughts of 
all other men-folk when they pass the woman 
who walks. 

Whatever the mental comment attached 
to the gaze, the eyes that meet mine are quite 
as often astounded as amused. If this is evi- 
dent even when I trudge in flooding sunshine, 
astonishment becomes irrepressible when I am 
seen abroad in snow and sleet. "By gosh! 
pretty hard walking you got, ain't you?" 

Foot-fast in slush, I pipe back, "But I like 
it. I have on rubber boots!" 

Such the accost from vehicles not facing in 
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The Wayfaring Woman 

my direction; but when a horse that goes my* 
way is drawn up, and I decline the proffered 
seat; knee-deep in slush, refuse to get in! then 
the driver's face expresses such commisera- 
tion as I never expected to feel applied to my 
inoffensive person. Plainly I see that it is not 
my drabbled skirts he is sorry for, it is my 
addled wits. Walking country roads in ill 
weather has taught me exactly how a lunatic 
must feel. It is said that the crazy have a cer- 
tain look in the eye; of experience I can affirm 
that so also have those who gaze upon the 
crazy. 

For the passing instant, as I meet that pro- 
found pity in mild, masculine orbs, I do doubt 
my own sanity, and wonder if perhaps this 
glorious freedom of the wild, wet weather is 
quite the sensible thing it seemed when I set 
out; for it is the look in other people's eyes 
that gives us our own spiritual orientation. 
Lunacy is a purely relative term. There are 
places where women may walk and hardly be 
glanced at for so doing, just as, perhaps, within 
his own cage-walls, the Bedlamite may seem 
to himself a normal human being. Also, per- 
haps, the lunatics, like me, have their silent 
chuckle; knowing, like me, that they have 
their inward fijn, although the nuipskull sane 
can't see it. I hope so, for I \rtpuld fain think 

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The Wayfaring Woman 

some sunny thought of the poor brainsick 
folk. 

It is not given to my friends of the high- 
way, sensible men creatures on wheels, any 
more than to their wives, snug at home in dry 
domestic shoes, to know the joy of my walk 
through the swift, wet snowflakes. On and 
up I go, never meaning to go home by the 
same way I have come. What lover of the 
road ever does that? 

The clinging snow has enfolded all things. 
Every tree stands with white, shrouded 
branches. The berry thickets are softly furred 
with white. The dusky gray aisles of the 
roadside woods die to blackness in the near 
distance. The little brooks go tinkling be- 
neath a thatch of snow bristling with high 
grass blades. There is almost no color. Even 
the bronze of oak leaves is veiled by white 
mist. The world is all white and gray, and in 
the distance faintly blue. The fast-falling 
snow blurs all familiar outlines strangely, so 
that I hardly believe those dreamy roofs 
down there belong to humdrum Littleville. 

There is strange, muffled silence. I am half 
afraid of the woods; they have grown un- 
earthly, so that I start at the eerie thud of 
the snow that drops from the branches. Gray- 
white, silent mystery, — and I should never 

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have known or seen it, had I not laughed at 
life's wild weather, and trudged forth to it in 
rubber boots, all alone. 

Yet, whatever the shy comradeship of way- 
side groves, of busy secret streams and homely 
fields, always the human aspect of the road 
engages the woman who tramps with joy at 
the heart. In summer and winter, as I go, I 
pass the brown milk-wagons, plodding, mo- 
notonous, starting forth from all the circling 
farms and converging to the milk station. 
The drivers have always dull or far-away 
faces, for it is always the same road, the same 
rattling cans at their backs, the same shaggy, 
jogging flanks before them. 

Almost always, somewhere on my journey, 
I meet the rural mail-man. The bobbing 
yellow dome of his narrow wagon is always 
easily descried in the distance. The mail- 
man knows my tramp-habits well, and the 
smile from his little blinking pane never fails 
me. Another familiar vehicle is the school 
carryall, which nowadays picks up all the 
human contents of one of our district schools 
and carries them down to Littleville for in- 
struction. The school wagon is driven by a 
jovial grandsire, and it is always crowded to 
overflowing with small, merry people who 
hail me. I rarely meet any folk on foot, 

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although occasionally a leggined huntsman 
slips noiselessly across the road from one 
grove to another, while a hound sniffs to right 
and left of his path. 

The farm-homes for the walker by the way 
have each the spell of some new story. There 
beside that wind-rocked cupola is some curi- 
ous mechanism. For what purpose? To lift 
water to a roof-tank? To catch the lightning? 
To send afloat an airship? Crude, clumsy, 
aspirant, a farm-boy's dream! 

I pass by a porch that abuts close upon the 
road. A door flings open and a man and a 
woman come out, too temper-tossed to heed 
me. The woman's face is set in impotent hate, 
the man's mouth is wried with cursing; and 
the faces are not young, nor the graven bit- 
terness a mere passing blight. Man and wife! 
Yet they loved once, I suppose, and went 
driving gayly back from the parson's, his arm 
about her ribboned waist, and posies flaunt- 
ing in her hat and in her cheeks — once! 

It is given to us who trudge by in the road 
beyond the doors to pity often, but to envy 
rarely. It is in the nature of things that we 
cannot envy, for those things we might covet 
are precisely those that come spilling out of 
door and window to bless us, so that presently 
we are bowing our heads and saying our bit of 
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The Wayjaring Woman 

a grace for them, as being also ours. Gentle 
old world, so constituted that a home can 
lock its door, if it will, upon its sorrow, but 
can never hide its joy! I pass another ragged 
farmhouse, and here the children in their 
homemade little duds are trooping in from 
school. Again an open doorway, and in it a 
mother wiping red hands upon her apron. 
The closing door shuts off sharply the shrill 
voices that tell of the day's events; but I have 
seen and heard, and therefore I, too, possess. 

At still another window-pane there is a 
bobbing baby-face. Such a crowing, chuck- 
ling joy as is a year-old baby! What home 
could ever hide him under a bushel? Strange 
mystery, that gives, withholds, inscrutably, 
the heart's desire of all of us, and yet ordains 
for us who trudge a snow-cold path, that there 
shall be, even until we grow gray of soul and 
feeble-footed, forever along our way, until 
the end, always behind the panes we pass, the 
bobbing baby-faces! Other women's babies? 
Does it make so much difference whose they 
are, so long as they are sweet? 

Another happiness it is ordained no woman 
shall keep unto herself. The peace of a wom- 
an's mouth when a good man loves her, that 
is another of the things nothing can conceal, 
for sorrow may be leaden and secret at the 

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The Wayfaring Woman 

heart, but joy will always out and abroad. 
That is one of the things we know, we way- 
faring women. 

Walks end with the dipping of the day. 
The winter dusk steals very early over all the 
snowy whiteness. I have to peer to see Little- 
ville's clustered roofs down there in the river- 
valley. Before I turn to wade back down the 
drifted hill-road to the ruddy little home that 
lends me harborage for the night, I stand still 
to look about me, through the whirling flakes. 
See all around me hills I have not yet climbed! 
Think of the untried roads that lead to them! 
What secret wizardry of new woods, what 
elfin tinkle of new brooks, what new farm- 
doors, glimpsing upon human mystery! Hills 
and the road for me, on and on! Just around 
the turn what wonders wait, shall ever wait, 
for my rubber boots and me! 



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XVIII 

The c Koad That Talked 

I HAD walked that way a score of times 
and never seen that road, yet it must have 
seen me and singled me out, or else it would 
never have peeped about from its ambush of 
berry thicket and swamp and said, "Come." 
I was sturdily plodding the broad state road, 
for there is a state road everywhere, white and 
useful, belonging to everybody, — to the lum- 
bering brown milk-wagons, to the bouncing 
muddy buckboards, to the motor-cycles with 
their vibrant chugging, to the skimming auto- 
mobiles. The state road talks business all the 
time, incessant talk to blur the hearing; for all 
good talk is half silence, and the only people 
who have anything to say are the people who 
have listened. I was lonely for some one to 
talk to when the little road beckoned. 

The state road always chooses the river- 
way, always bustles along on the level; how 
could one ever be friends with a road that 
never climbed a hill? My feet were trudging 
the macadam, though growing more gypsyish 
each moment, when the flash of a red leaf on 

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The l(oad That Talked 

a dusty bush, the rustle of an unseen bird, 
and I saw the little road hailing me, and 
turned. It was waiting for me, half revealed, 
half hidden, like a shy, would-be friend, and 
at first, except for certain gypsy gleams along 
its fence-rows, it was commonplace enough, 
it might have been anybody's road. 

At first, too, it went along discreetly, it 
turned and walked parallel with the state 
thoroughfare, a little apart, it is true, but 
steadily patterning on the manners of the 
highway, so that if a traveler had chanced on 
it, he would have seen nothing unconventional. 
The little road went along like that, and waited 
for its friends, but I had faith to believe it 
would soon begin to climb, that climbing was 
what it wanted of me. Imperceptibly at first 
it swerved from the parallel, imperceptibly it 
mounted a little, so that presently, near as we 
still were, we could look down at the village. 

Then the little road began to talk, politely, 
pleasantly, but in no wise pregnantly. Its 
language was meaningless at first, but with 
a lure, as comrade eyes light to yours above 
lip-chat that does not need to mean anything. 
We could go slowly, having all the morning 
to get acquainted. Together the road and I 
looked down at the town through a screen of 
late September leaves. 
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The c Koad That Talked 

The place lay in mist, partly of the late- 
lingering fog, partly of the fires that belong 
to these days when all the village rakes and 
burns, and the youngsters tumble and romp 
and shriek in piles of leaves. All outlines are 
blurred by a pearly haze, against which eddies 
the deeper blue of chimney-smoke. Beyond 
the town the hills are dull gray against the 
luminous gray of the sky, and between town 
and hill the river runs, a shining silver sheet, 
with broken, deep-toned reflections near the 
bank. Looking eastward through the flicker- 
ing leaves, I watch the sun steadily shining 
through, shredding the mist with fires of opal, 
in gleams of blue and orange and amethyst. 
Down at the village they see none of this, they 
know only that the fog lifts, while stubble- 
gardens, and lawns, and house-fronts all turn 
brown and bare and commonplace beneath 
the relentless sun. It is for me to see the opal 
fires lick up the mist; such cheery little won- 
ders of the road are all for me. 

The road keeps silence, letting me listen to 
the village sounds, musically fused at this 
brief distance; the shunting of a freight train 
and its raucous whistle, the ringing of ham- 
mers on new scaffolding, the shrilling of the 
saw-mill, the barking of dogs. All to herself, 
like the shy one that she is, the little road 

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The Itoad That Talked 

murmurs her replies, in the twittering of spar- 
rows in fence-thickets, in the rustle of wind in 
bared branches, in the scratch and scud of dry 
leaves that race, the soft thudding of a chest- 
nut burr. 

The sun is high, and the wind is blowing, 
and the comrade road is waiting, genially post- 
poning its sure self-revelation, but a-tiptoe to 
be off now to the woods, where we may share 
our fun unmolested, unsuspected. The little 
road is climbing now beyond mistaking. She 
is stepping through the woods so familiarly 
that you might miss her trail if you did n't 
follow close, for she knows there is no fun in 
the woods if you can't get lost, can't drop the 
pack of personality from your shoulder, and 
grow one with brushwood shadow, or arched 
branch. When the road said this to me, I be- 
gan to listen to her for every word that she 
might say. But stealing ever deeper into the 
woodland, my path is not talking now, she is 
singing rather, she is dancing. Suddenly in 
the deeps of the wood sl\e opens up a long 
green alley of fairy turf, and waits to see if I 
will share it with her and go scudding it like a 
squirrel. The white state-way never dreamed 
that I could fly, but the little friend-road 
knew. The road plays with me. Near the rut 
made by a lumber team, she tosses a handful 
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The c I(oad That Talked 

of wintergreen berries like flecks of coral for 
me to garner, and lifts a sudden torch of 
scarlet oak against some wood-recess black 
and deep as a cave. Every time she hears the 
sound of wood-chopping she whisks away into 
still deeper shadow to be alone with me. 
Looking to right and left you cannot see the 
open; the only open is above, in the blue. 

In the heart of the woods there is elfland. 
Trusting me, the little road dared to turn mad, 
she who had been so circumspect down below 
in the valley. Of the trees, some were still 
summer green and some were russet gold and 
some were claret crimson, so that the sifted 
light was strange, the light of faery. "There 
is no state road anywhere," said my mad little 
path to me, "there is nothing in all the world 
but wood and sky. You are a tree, a cloud, a 
leaf, — there is no you ! Dance!" In and out 
through the trees she eddied and whirled, my 
road, glad as a scudding cloud and mad as the 
wind, in and out, in and out. Free winds that 
piped in the tree-tops, white clouds that raced 
the blue above us, laced branches that swayed 
to a dance eternal, exhaustless, — round and 
round we eddied, panting, the road and I, all 
by ourselves, alone, unguessed, in the heart 
of the woods. They, too, were drunk with the 
madness of out-of-doors, Bacchus's maenads. 

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The c I(oad That Talked 

Then, "Whisk!" cried the little road, "we 
can't long k6ep up this sort of thing, friend- 
woman!" She turned sober in an instant, wild 
laughter dying to bubbling chuckles at itself. 
The tall trees broke away abruptly on stump- 
pocked fields, flaunting sumach by their stone 
walls. We had come upon a bustling little 
farm. My road, the wild and lonely-hearted, 
was transformed into a chatty neighbor, and 
turned in cheerily to pass the time of day at 
the back door. A brisk and friendly farm it 
was. The orchard jounced us a red apple as 
we passed, a white-nosed horse thrust head 
from the barn window and whinnied a wel- 
come. Two shepherd dogs, one a stiffened 
grandsire, the other a rollicking puppy, 
barked a dutiful protest, then sniffed and 
licked genially. There was a baby carriage on 
the porch, a swing beneath the shaggy door- 
yard pine, there were geraniums at the win- 
dow, and gleaming milk-pans on "the back 
porch. Beyond the big house was a whole vil- 
lage of miniature houses, kennels and chicken 
sheds and corn-cribs, set down cozily- any- 
where to be handy. The big red barns were 
chatty with clucking hens. A sunny, sociable, 
commonplace farm that drew us to gossip on 
the back steps, to pause and rest there, the 
road and I. As we chatted, lingering and 
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The r^odd That Talked 

happy, of buttermilk and buckwheat and the 
cut of kitchen aprons, would any one have 
guessed that this little cozy domestic road, 
back there beyond the turn, had reeled in 
bacchic dance for very ecstasy of solitude? 

When we were alone again, the road 
explained, questioning with searching friend- 
eyes to see if I understood, "Many selves be- 
long to every road that must be always climb- 
ing a hill, all alone. Don't you know," laughed 
the little road, "that there was never a dryad 
but longed sometimes to bind a big apron over 
her flickering leaf-films and slip into some 
crofter's cot in Tempe and slap the wheat- 
cakes on the warm hearth-stones? 

"And I have other moods as I climb/' 
whispered the little road, as we took hands 
and trudged along, shuffling the leaves and 
playing with them, with no one to watch, shar- 
ing with each other the eternal child that 
chuckles inside lonely folk; the undying child 
within us is not startled to hear itself laugh out 
loud in the friendly solitude of little roads like 
this. 

Yet, laughing, we were thoughtful, too. 
Maples like great torches of flame studded 
the wayside, and beyond them in broad fields 
marched the corn-shocks, a ragged brown 
battalion. The sky was ever burning bluer 

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The 1(gad That Talked 

above the hill-crest. Then we left the farm 
fields for a wild stretch of boulder-grown pas- 
ture, and suddenly the little road said: "Look, 
a wayside shrine! Let us stop." 

Pine trees such as survive now in only a 
few scattered groves formed a vaulted chapel. 
Beneath the trees some one had built a rude 
stone pile, a picnic fireplace, now for us be- 
come an altar, for to a little wildwood road all 
things are natural. We stood silent on that 
pavement of brown pine-needles beneath the 
arching green, supported on its blue-brown 
pillars of high pine trunks. Through the far 
tops there went singing an eternal chant. No 
one ever listened long to that music, all alone, 
who did not know that it is a hymn older than 
any creed, and outliving all doubt. In the 
amber-lit shrine, swept by clean wind and 
haunted by eternal music, there was beauty 
to empty the heart of all desire, so that, 
troubled, I asked, "But it was to pray that 
we stopped ?" 

"Oh," answered the pagan road, "I never 
pray, for what is the use of learning how to 
lisp? — I only praise!" 

We were a long time silent beneath the 
pines, but we were deeper friends when we 
went on, for there is no bond in friendship 
closer than the sharing of a faith. Our feet 

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The T^ad That Talked 

were springing along as up we went. There 
were no more farms now, only at last above 
us the hilltop and the sky, clouds that raced 
across it, the sweep of great clean winds, and 
the call of high-winging crows. 

The little road, so shy at starting, now 
dared to say to me this intimacy, "Do you 
not know my gospel, — that gladness is God? 
That is why I am always climbing hills. That 
is why I called you this morning, so that for a 
little while I and you might step into the 
sky." 



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XIX 

My Mother's gardeners 

OF gardens "so much has been said and 
on the whole so well said," that I might 
perhaps restrain my pen from turning up that 
overworked soil. But yet the gardens of which 
I write have not been like the gardens of the 
published page. They have not brought forth 
generously either prose of lusty vegetable or 
poetry of spicy blossom. Although the gar- 
dens have been many, they might almost be 
described, so alike have they been, as if they 
were one, an itinerant garden that has accom- 
panied us from one little hill village to an- 
other; for I write of the stony, arid, sterile 
garden-plot of a country parish. 

Now, however forbidding the garden that 
has stretched rearward of each new domicile, 
my mother has always fallen upon it with a 
valiance of hope that neither years nor dis- 
appointment can destroy. She always thinks 
that things are going to grow in her gardens, 
and things do grow in them, too; but they are 
not always the things my mother has led me 
to expect. For her, I hope she will find the 
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My Mother's (jardeners 

garden of her dreams in Paradise; for me, this 
earth will do, even this small, hill-circled scrap 
of it; for I am no gardener in my heart, only 
an observer of gardens. I own to an unre- 
generate enjoyment in watching my mother's 
vegetables misbehave, just as, surreptitiously, 
I can't help loving the whimsical goats of my 
father's rustic flock. 

, As I glance back over the unwritten journal 
of my childhood, I find the words Choir, Ves- 
try, Garden always printed in capital letters. 
The Gardener was a figure as momentous in 
my infant horizon as was the Senior Warden. 
In respect to gardens my mother has never 
had any confidence in the assistance of her 
own family. There have been occasions when 
some son or daughter, temporarily in favor, 
has been allowed to hoe softly, under super- 
vision; but as to her husband, banishment is 
the sole decree. In fact, my father, genuine 
old English, imported direct from Trollope, 
does not show to best advantage in a garden. 
In general I have observed that our country 
clericals are likely to be at quarrel with the 
soil, that arid independent old soil which will 
grow things in its own way, in utter despite of 
parsons. My father's original sin was due to 
the usual pastoral reluctance to let the tares 
and the wheat grow together unto the harvest, 

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My Mother's (yardmen 

and it was when he mistook our infant carrots 
for Heavcn-knows-what seed of the Enemy 
that the decree of banishment against him as a 
marauder occurred. Rather than initiate one 
of her own home-circle into her garden mys- 
teries, my mother has chosen the unlikeliest 
outsider, and solicited advice from the most 
unprecedented sources, or by any methods of 
cajolery; she has been no stickler in regard to 
any man's creed or practice when it has been 
a question of so vital a matter as cucumbers. 

My retrospect shows our gardeners stretch- 
ing back to the bounds of my memory, a lean, 
gnarled, hoary procession. One of the earliest 
of them is Father Time himself, with hoe in- 
stead of scythe, and with white locks rippling 
down his back. Father Time's frank admis- 
sion when engaged might have daunted some, 
but did not daunt my mother, for he confided 
to her at once that he could hoe but could 
not walk. He proved useful when carefully 
hauled from spot to spot, but our garden was 
cultivated that season in circles, of which the 
hoe was the radius and Father Time the 
center. 

Another of our ancient hoe-bearers was a 

veteran. I do not know whether he had lost 

his eye on the battlefield or elsewhere, but 

certainly he had not exchanged it for wisdom. 

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My Mother's (jardeners 

That is why he is the favorite of my mother's 
recollections. She likes her gardeners a little 
imbecile. They are more manageable that 
way. The burden of their intelligence is the 
more usual trouble. A simple faith united to 
an instant obedience is the desideratum in 
gardeners; usually a gardener is as obstinate 
as he is conservative, and this is not at all to 
my mother's mind. She loves to glean garden- 
lore from every source, but better still she 
loves to invent garden-lore of her own. She 
likes to be allowed to set out on an entirely 
new tack with some poor erring cabbage, and 
it is*all she can do to hold on to her ministe- 
rial temper when she finds that her gardener 
has ruined the work of regeneration by some 
old-fashioned disciplinary notions of his own. 
Our ancient warrior, however, had no notions 
of his own, disciplinary or other, and that is 
why he possesses a shrine apart in our memo- 
ries. He was as meek in my mother's hands 
as his own hoe, and he never did anything 
she did not wish him to do except when he 
died! 

On a bad eminence of contrast my memory 
declares another figure. I do not remember 
whether it was an invincible audacity, or an 
utter despair of securing likelier assistance, 
that led us that year to employ our own sex- 

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My Mother's (jardeners 

ton. It Is an axiom known to every ministerial 
household that it is unwise ever to put any 
member of your own flock to domestic use. A 
brawny Romanist, if such can be obtained, 
for laundry purposes, a Holy Roller for the 
furnace, and a Seventh-Day Baptist for the 
garden — these are samples of our principle 
of selection. I do not know just why those of 
our own fold are undesirable, — it is wiser 
perhaps that the silly sheep should not see the 
antic gamboling of the sober shepherd behind 
his own locked door, or guess what internal 
levities spice the discreet external conduct of 
his family. I do not know how it was that we 
fell so utterly from the grace of common sense 
as to employ our own sexton that summer. 
Apart from sectarian issues, a sexton is the 
most mettlesome man that grows, and not at 
all to be subdued to the ignoble uses of a hoe. 
This sexton was an agony to my father in the 
sanctuary, and an anguish to my mother in 
the garden. He went about with a chip in his 
mouth, and he always held it in one corner 
of his lips and chewed it aggressively and 
bitterly, and with the other corner he talked, 
just as bitterly. Within his own house he 
must have exchanged the chip for a pipe, for 
although I never saw him smoke, the fragrant 
tobacco fumes of him were spread through the 
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My Mother's gardeners 

house after every back-door colloquy. He 
talked more willingly than he worked, and 
that summer was a lean and sorrowful season, 
when the garden languished and my mother 
was browbeaten, unable, all because he was 
the sexton, to bring the man to order with 
the sharp nip of her words across his naughty 
pate. 

We were more cautious next time and 
availed ourselves of one no less meek than a 
certain village ancient prominently known to 
be an Anarchist and a Methodist. The com- 
bination is unusual, I admit, but you may 
look for almost anything in a gardener. As 
an infant, I used to scan his person for a 
glimpse of the red shirt, and his lips for a 
spark of the incendiary eloquence, but no 
symptom of either ever showed. He was old 
and underfed and taciturn, and he gardened 
exactly as he wished to, without paying the 
tribute even of a comment to my mother's 
suggestions. He had such original methods 
of his own that, for very amazement, she 
gave up her own initiative for the pleasure 
of watching his. Once when he was seen sol- 
emnly planting stones in one earthy mound 
after another, he did break his icy reserve to 
answer her irrepressible inquiry; he believed 
that potatoes grew better that way, since 

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My Mother's gardeners 

the roots did not have to pierce the earth 
for themselves but could wriggle through the 
friendly interstices of the stones. That sum- 
mer was one of cheerful surprises. This sin- 
gular spirit had, I believe, a genuine sympathy 
for the poor toiling vegetables; I remember 
that he spent one afternoon in tying up his 
tomatoes in copies of a certain sectarian 
sheet he brought with him for the purpose. 
A sportive wind arose in the night, to die 
before the Sabbath morning, on which we 
beheld not only our rectory lawn, but the 
utterly Episcopal precincts of the church, 
bestrewn with "Glad Tidings of Zion." He 
was a lonely soul and dwelt apart, chiefly in 
a wheelbarrow. The vehicle was one of his 
idiosyncracies. He never appeared without 
it. Up and down our leafy streets would he 
trundle it; but yet I never saw anything in 
the wheelbarrow except the gardener. He 
appeared to push it ever before him for the 
sole purpose of having something to sit on 
when he wished, from the philosophic heights 
of his theological and sociological principles, 
to ruminate upon the evil behavior of "cab- 
bages and kings." 

As I look back over a long succession of 
gardeners, I see it, punctuated as it may be 
here and there by some salient personality, 
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My Mothers gardeners 

for the most part stretching a weary line of 
the aged and infirm of mind and body, and 
I wonder by what survival of the unfittest 
society devotes to gardening purposes only 
those already devoted to decrepitude. As a 
matter of fact, the more one becomes ac- 
quainted with the vagaries of growing things, 
the more one is convinced that it requires 
nimble wits and supple muscles to subjugate 
the army of iniquitous vegetables the hum- 
blest garden can produce. The more you 
know of the deception and ingratitude to be 
experienced in the vegetable world, the sad- 
der you become. In addition to sharpened 
brain and taut sinews, the worker in gardens 
needs a heart packed with optimism. This 
last my mother possesses, and though garden 
after garden may have gone back on her, 
nothing can prevent her running with over- 
tures of salvation to meet the next little 
grubby potato-patch life offers her. With 
hope indomitable my parents survey each 
new glebe, while I, the incredulous, secretly 
meditate upon the kinship in conduct of all 
parochial gardens, expecting only that the 
sheep and the potatoes will find some new 
way of going astray; and may Heaven for- 
give me that I should be diverted by their 
versatility of naughtiness! For example, you 

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My Mother's (gardeners 

can never tell what you may expect from a 
tomato, for your tomato is a vegetable of 
temperament. Poetically sensitive to atmos- 
pheric environment, it fades to earth under 
the mildest sun, wilts at a frost impercep- 
tible to its more prosaic neighbors. Capri- 
cious ever, it will sometimes, in mock of its 
own cherished nervous system, exhibit a 
sturdiness out of pure perversity. One chill 
June morning we found our young tomato 
plants flat to earth, a black and hopeless ruin. 
We bought new ones and set them out in their 
stead, whereupon the old plants popped up 
and sprouted to wantonness, — nothing but 
the elemental energy of jealousy. The tomato 
is like to be as barren of production as the 
human sentimentalist, either bringing forth a 
green bower of leafage, or drooping to earth 
with the weight of crimson globes that, lifted, 
show a corroding hole of black rot. 

In homely contrast consider the bean. The 
bean is the kindliest vegetable there is. From 
the seed up, it is well-intentioned, for the 
bean may be eaten through and through by 
worms, and yet, planted, will sprout and 
spring, and bring forth fruit out of the very 
stones. 

The beet is another simple-minded, de- 
pendable member of the congregation, and 

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My Mother's (jardeners 

even more generous in contribution to the 
minister's support than is the bean, for the 
beet yields top and bottom, root and branch. 
In summer the beet-top furnishes the first 
succulent taste of green, and afterwards the 
round red root of him is a defense against the 
lean and hungry winter months. 

But for the most part vegetables are an 
ill-behaving lot. The cabbage inflates itself 
with an appearance of pompous righteous- 
ness, the longer to deceive our hopes and the 
more largely to conceal its heart of rot. The 
radish sends up generous leaves as if it meant 
to fulfill all the mendacious promises of the 
seed-catalogue, and when uprooted exhibits 
the pink tenuity of an angle-worm. The cu- 
cumber is at first, for all our ministrations, 
hesitant and coy of leaf within its box, and 
then suddenly bursts into a riot of leafiness 
whereby it does its best to conceal from our 
inquiring eye its swelling green cylinders. 
Corn, deceptive like the radish, is prone to 
put forth a hopeful fountain of springing 
green, only to ear out prematurely, and re- 
ward us with kernels blackened and corroded. 

In the parochial garden the pea is one to 
tease us always with its might-be and might- 
have-been. If peas are to grow beyond "the 
kid's lip, the stag's antler," they require the 

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My Mother's Ofardeners 

moral support of brush, and brush is some- 
thing a minister's family, aided only by a 
decrepit gardener, cannot always supply. 
Unsupported by brush, our fair peas lie along 
the ground, an ever-present disappointment. 

Two vegetables have always haunted my 
mother's aspirations, in vain. I hope they 
grow in heaven, for it is in the nature of 
things that celery and asparagus should be 
denied to a nomadic earthly clergy, requir- 
ing, as the one does, richness of soil, and as 
the other, permanence. Illusory asparagus, 
it takes three years to grow him! Of course 
if some disinterested predecessor had planted 
him, we might in our turn eat him. But our 
too itinerant clergy do not give overmuch 
thought to their successors. Barren parochial 
gardens hint just a shade of jealousy about 
letting Apollos water. 

But it is not the vegetables alone that 
strain my mother's sturdy optimism. All 
gardens are subject to invasion by maraud- 
ing animals, differing in size and soul and 
species, all the way from the microscopic 
tomato-lice, past woodchuck and rabbit and 
playful puppy, up to the cow, ruminating our 
young corn-shoots beneath the white sum- 
mer moon, on to my father himself, planting 
aberrant feet where his holden ministerial 
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My Mother's (gardeners 

eyes behold no springing seedlings in the 
blackness of the soil. But our worst enemies 
are hens, and as it happens at present, dis- 
senting hens, sallying forth from* the barn- 
yard fastnesses of the Baptist parsonage upon 
our helpless Anglican garden, plucking our 
young peas up out of the soil, and then later 
and more brazenly prying them out of the 
very pod! Forthwith they fall upon our let- 
tuce-beds, scratching away with fanatic fer- 
vor, as if for all the world they meant to up- 
root Infant Baptism from out the land. All 
this is too much for my mother. On the van- 
tage-ground of the back doorsill she stands 
and hurls coal out of the kitchen scuttle at 
the sectarian fowls, — coal and anathema, 
low-voiced and virulent. Hers is no mere vul- 
gar many-mouthed abuse. There is nothing 
of so delicate pungency as the vituperation 
of a minister's wife, really challenged to try 
the subtleties of English and yet offend no 
convention of seemliness. Add to the fact of 
the challenge, another fact, that she is of 
Irish blood, and that her gallery gods are 
just inside the door, and it is a pity her audi- 
ence should be merely the hens and I. 

Thus do I ever hover at hand, softly ap- 
plausive of my mother's defense of her gar- 
den, secretly appreciative of the devious 

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My Mother's Qardeners 

ways of vegetables, witnessing — to forgive 
— the wanderings of my father's flock. For 
if all the flock were abstemious and orthodox 
instead of being, as some are, frankly given 
over to alcoholism and agnosticism and 
what not; and if the gardens grew, as gardens 
should grow, into honest, God-fearing cab- 
bages and potatoes; if the righteous corn 
parted green lips from kernels firm and white 
as a dentist's placard, how then should the 
parish gardens that dot our hill-strewn coun- 
tryside bring forth that fruit of laughter 
which consoles the dwellers in these our tiny 
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XX 

My Little Tmvn 

VIVIDLY at times my memory restores 
to me the sensation of the eternal Sab- 
bath. Beyond the stained-glass windows, the 
sunshine is sifted over daisied graves. Per- 
haps, for all one knows, the grown-up angels 
are letting the little ones sport over those 
graves at this very minute, even though it is 
Sunday, for there are no parishes in heaven 
to say no to naughtiness. My mother is held 
home from the sanctuary that morning. The 
three of us sit a-row in the front pew. Above 
us our father thunders forth his sermon, to 
which we give but scant attention, that roar 
in his voice being part of the programme of 
this one day in seven. Against my own 
shoulder drowses my little sister's head. On 
my other side, my little brother conceals his 
yawns by receiving them into a little brown 
paw, and then, as it were, softly sliding them 
into his pocket, as if his hand had other 
business there. But I, I sit erect and unwink- 
ing, for I am the minister's eldest, and the 
Parish is at my back. 

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My Little Town 

While the younger ones nodded, while the 
infant angels played hide-and-seek out in the 
graveyard sunshine, of what was I thinking? 
This: of the minister's daughter who had lived 
in that Parish before me. A great girl of five 
she had been when she used, having waited 
until her father was engrossed in his sermon, 
to slip from that very front pew in which I 
sat, to steal up into the chancel, and there, all 
silently but with impish grimace and antics, 
would she hold the horrified gaze of the Parish 
so fascinated that her father would at length 
be diverted from his eloquence, and forth- 
with, swooping from the pulpit all in a swirl 
of wrathful surplice, would bear his small 
daughter into the vestry room and lock her 
there before resuming his sermon. She was 
very naughty, but oh, what larks, what larks! 
So I thought then, and still to-day I am 
querying whether that little girl — inevita- 
bly though she mu&t, under steady parochial 
pressure, have been subdued to a woman- 
hood of decency and decorum — does not 
to-day in middle life rejoice that once upon a 
time, at five, she had her little fling in her 
father's chancel! 

But we were children erf no such indepen- 
dent pattern; and so on every Sabbath we 
presented to the Parish's criticism unwrig- 
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gling infant backs, little ramrods of religion, 
while our thoughts went flying off on impish 
business of their own; and, as the years flowed 
by, on and up to man's estate we tramped, 
always thrusting forward in sight of the Par- 
ish, fashionable, urban, critical, our shabby 
best foot, skittish though that foot might be. 
Holding well together, on we went, running 
the gantlet of many parishes, until at last 
we trudged us into Littleville. We supposed 
my little town would be a parish too, but it 
is not. 

Cozily remote and forgotten among its 
blue hills, Littleville has preserved a primi- 
tive hospitality, so that, battered nomads of 
much clerical adventuring, we sank gratefully 
into its little rectory. There was perhaps a 
reason for our sincerity of welcome, for if 
we had had our parishes, so, too, had Little- 
ville had its parsons. It belongs to that 
class of far-away, wee congregations whither 
they send old ministers outwearied, to be 
alone with old age and memories beside the 
empty, echoing churches reminiscent of the 
days when farmers attended service. And if 
among these venerable shepherds there have 
fallen to Littleville's lot some whose scholarly 
old wits had gone a bit doddering, so that 
they believed and preached whimsical doc- 

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My Little Town 

trine, or could no longer trace without assist- 
ance the labyrinth of the liturgy, or others, 
younger, who had proved ministerial ship- 
wrecks because they were burdened by some 
fatal handicap in child or wife, — if such 
have come to Littleville, Littleville has been 
very kindly. My little town has accepted its 
hay-crop as the rain has willed, and its minis- 
ters as the bishop has sent them. Its views 
on both visitations are produced in a spirit 
of comment rather than criticism; its conduct 
toward both is that of adaptation rather than 
argument. 

For instance, there was that bachelor-rec- 
tor who preferred the society of beasts to 
that of his parishioners in the rectory, and to 
that of his fellow saints in the new Jerusalem. 
During his incumbency a setting-hen occu- 
pied the fireplace in the spare room, and a 
dog sat on a chair at his celibate table, and 
crouched before the pulpit during service. 
Littleville did not protest; rather, of a week- 
day, the female members from time to time 
descended upon the unhappy man in bis re- 
tirement, and with broom and mop-pail 
cleaned him up most thoroughly; and of a 
Sunday the whole body of the congregation 
listened unwinking while their rector's bran- 
dished fist demanded from their stolid faces 
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My Little Town 

eternal salvation for his Rover, — listened 
with those inscrutable eyes I have come to 
respect: for I know that while Littleville never 
argued with their parson the point of kennels 
in the skies, they will turn this theological mor- 
sel under their tongues down at the hardware 
store unto the third and fourth generation. 

Then there was the vicar whose poor boy 
was scarred in a way that Littleville, sym- 
pathetic but always delightedly circumstan- 
tial, has painted upon my imagination. When, 
during this rectorate, rival sectarians would 
point to the goodly ruddiness of some Bap- 
tist or Methodist scion, the Littleville Angli- 
cans would loyally argue that Seth Lawson 
over at Hyde's Crossing had a little girl who 
had four thumbs, and Seth was just a plain 
man, and no minister. 

Tradition tells also of a parson who trod 
the mazes of the ritual so uncertainly that 
he was just as likely to jump backwards as 
forwards in the psalter. With inimitable 
delicacy Littleville would stand holding its 
prayer-books at attention, ready to jump 
with him, whichever way he went. However, 
certain women have confided to me how fear- 
ful they were, on their wedding-day, lest this 
retrograde movement might occur during the 
solemnization of matrimony. 

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My Little Tozvn 

Thus it came about, I fancy, that Little- 

ville received us with relief as well as warmth, 

for our theology was so simple and sound that 

hardly could the agnostic barber find fault 

with it; a family studiously normal, we showed 

" Never mole, harelip, nor scar, 
Nor mark prodigious; " — 

and we proved able to conduct service with 
sonorous equilibrium. 

Here we have been accepted and courte- 
ously entreated. Here we have not had to 
live up to any parochial pretensions, for my 
little town does not play bridge or give din- 
ner-parties. Here in my little town we need 
not rise betimes to perform miracles of domes- 
tic service on the sly in order to be free to 
attend on the lordly city parishioner pos- 
sessed of maidservants and manservants. 
Rather we may wear our gingham pinafores 
on the front porch, and pop our peas under 
the very nose of the senior warden, and very 
probably with his assistance, if he perchance 
slouch down beside us, blue-overalled and 
genial. 

Littleville, always leisurely, took its time 
about getting acquainted with us. It hurtled 
us through no round of teas, it did not put 
us through the paces of a parish reception. 
Rather it came and hammered together our 
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My Little Town 

broken furniture, decayed by much mov- 
ing, it stole in at the back door to help us 
when we were sick, it let us know it missed 
us when we went worldward, visiting. Of 
such as it had, it made us gifts, — a yellow 
pumpkin vaulting our back fence, potatoes 
rattling into our cellar-bins unannounced 
while we were still abed, golden maple syrup 
flowing for us at the time when tin pails gleam 
all up and down the street, and the sap-vats 
bubble and steam pungently; or perhaps the 
gift is the reward of the gunning season, as 
when a vestryman-huntsman, as we stand 
about the social door after church, darts aside 
into the coalbin and thence presents a news- 
paper package streaked with pink; peeped 
at to please his beaming eye, it exhibits a 
brace of skinned squirrels, which we bear 
oozily homeward from divine service. 

There is in the mere aspect of Littleville 
a latent friendliness perceptible to all eyes 
that give more than a touring-car glance. 
Over our hilly streets slumbers eternal leisure. 
Whatever it is, Littleville always has time 
to talk about it. When anything happens 
we all go running out of our front doors to 
discuss it, but otherwise our streets are very 
still: rows of farmhouses planted side by 
side for sociability, while behind each stretch 

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My Little Town 

its acres of stony pasture and half-shorn 
woodland. At night, silence and darkness 
settle upon us early. By nine even the hotel 
has gone to bed, so that it would with diffi- 
culty be summoned forth in protesting paja- 
mas if a late traveler should clamor at the 
door. Of a starless night you may look forth 
at eight and see no glimmer of light or life all 
up and down the street. When we come to 
church of a winter evening, we carry lanterns 
as we plod a drifted path in high-girt skirts 
and generous goloshes. One's sleep is some- 
times startled by a flare of light that streams 
from wall to wall and passes, as some mys- 
terious late lantern-bearer goes by, leaving 
the night again all blackness, pierced some- 
times by the crazy laughter of an owl, or 
beaten upon by the insistent clamor of frogs. 
Those who live by Littleville's quiet streets 
have had time to have their little ways. For 
example, they still have "comp'ny" in Little- 
ville. In other places they no longer have 
comp'ny, no longer sacrifice for unprotesting 
hours and days and weeks all domestic peace 
and privacy to the exigencies of an intrusive 
guest. Comp'ny, imminent, instant, or past, 
is discussed in bated whispers at back doors. 
Assistance and sympathy are proffered as in 
a run of fever. As for the comp'ny itself, it 
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My Little Town 

knows its privileges and never resigns its 
prerogatives. However efficient at home, 
when a-visiting, it can sit on the barnyard 
bars in its best store suit and without an emo- 
tion of conscience watch its host milk twenty 
cows, or within doors it can fold its house- 
wifely hands upon its waistline, regard with- 
out compunction a lap for once apronless, 
and rock and chatter hour after hour while 
its hostess pants and perspires to feed it. 
But Littleville has one revenge: one day, it, 
too, can put on its best and drive off, and 
itself be somebody's comp'ny. 

Comp'ny by definition comes from abroad, 
invading our peaceful citadel from some hill- 
side farm or neighboring village; within our 
own bulwarks we are all too neighborly for 
any such alien stiffness. Our streets are 
cheery with greeting. Among the younger 
fry, "Hello " is the universal term of accost. 
" Hello !" some youngster yodels to me from 
across the street, "hello," supplemented by 
the frank employment of my baptismal name, 
sign and seal of my adoption. We are care- 
less of the little formalities of Miss and Mr. 
here, just as our gentlemen are careless of 
their hat-raising. Why should Littleville man 
endanger head and health from false def- 
erence to his hearty, workaday comrade, 

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woman? From the older men, surely, twin- 
kle and grin are greeting enough without 
any up-quirking of rheumatic elbows; and 
as for the younger men, I have a fondness for 
their method of raising the right index finger 
to the hat-brim, with a smile that points in 
the same direction. 

Although we are without formality, cer- 
tain conventions always belong to a call. The 
popular hours are two and six, with the tacit 
exemption of Saturday evening, for then we 
might inconsiderately intercept the gentle- 
man of the house en route from his steaming 
wash-tub in the kitchen to his ice-bound 
bedroom. We have our set forms of greeting 
and departure. A hostess must always meet 
a caller with a hearty, "Well, you're quite a 
stranger." A caller must always remain a 
cordial two hours, and rising to leave must 
invariably say, "Well, I'm making a visit, 
not a call"; to which the hostess responds, 
"Why, what's your hurry?" Conversation 
must hold itself subject to interruption, must 
be prepared to arrest itself in the midst of 
the most lurid recital in order that all may 
fly to the window if man or beast or both pass 

by. 

A6 to that conversation itself, we really do 
not care for feverish animation. We allow 
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My Little Town 

ourselves long pauses while we creak our 
rockers, pleasantly torpid. Should our empti- 
ness become too acute, there is always one 
subject that can fill it. We always have the 
sick. We report to each other anxiously that 
So-and-So is having "a poor spell," a condi- 
tion that, if obstinate, will result in the poor 
man or woman's "doctoring," a perilous sub- 
stitute for home treatment. We have our 
hereditary nostrums of combinations quainter 
than Shakespeare's cauldron, and home-made 
brews of herbs that sound almost Chaucerian. 
There is suggestion still more remote in "hem- 
lock tea." I am not certain of its ingredients, 
but its effect is to produce a state of affairs 
known as a "hemlock sweat." A "hemlock 
sweat" is the last resort before sending for 
the doctor, and it generally brings him. 

If our interest in our diseases should ever 
flag, we have, of course, always, our neighbors. 
In Littleville, gossip has become an art, in so 
far as it possesses the perfection of pungency 
without taint of malice, like the chat of an in- 
quisitive Good Samaritan. When Littleville 
talks about its neighbors, I listen in reverence 
before a penetration I have never seen any- 
where else. Littleville has not gone abroad 
to study human nature; it has stayed at home, 
and watched every flicker of its neighbor's 

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My Little Town 

eyelash, has marked each step taken from 
toddling infancy to toddling old age, has list- 
ened to every word uttered from babyhood to 
senility. Oh, Littleville knows its own; and 
knowing its own, knows other folk too. New- 
comer though I am, I should venture no pre- 
tense in the face of that slumbering twinkle 
in Littleville's eyes, — Littleville, sharp of 
tongue and genial in deeds. 

This grace of Littleville charity, charity, 
keen-eyed yet tender, can be, I suppose, the 
possession of stationary people only; of peo- 
ple who have been babies together, have 
wedded and worked, been born and been 
buried together, whose parents and grand- 
parents also are unforgotten, whose dead lie 
on white-dotted hillsides in every one's 
knowledge. The thought of this bond of per- 
manence, of memories, has its wistfulness for 
us others. You can never be very hard on 
the woman, however fallen, who was once the 
little Sallie to share her cooky with you at 
recess; and, however his poor grizzled head 
be addled now with drink and failure, a man 
is still the little Joey whose bare feet trod with 
yours the stubble of forbidden midnight or- 
chards. 

All the world looks askance at a gypsy, and 
we are gypsies, we clericals; yet never gypsies 
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My Little Town 

more involuntary, more home-loving at heart. 
We are pilgrims, never dropping, as we so- 
journ in parish after parish, the pilgrim cloak 
of an affable reserve. Back to the edges of 
my memory, we ourselves have been always 
the Ministry. Sundays in that straight front 
pew, week-days in that well-watched rectory, 
always the Ministry, never ourselves. But 
here at last in my little town, is that straight 
cloak of ministerial decorum slipping from us? 
May we set down our scrip and staff? At last 
do we dare to be ourselves, neighbors with 
neighbors? Do we dare to be part of a place? 
Perhaps. 

Already in brief years I have acquired a 
little of that admitted intimacy with a com- 
munity that comes only through knowing 
some bit of its history for one's self and not 
on hearsay; for I have observed the course of 
several of our thrifty Littleville courtships 
whereby our youngsters in their later teens 
set themselves sturdily beneath the yoke of 
matrimony, promptly bringing forth a pro- 
cession of babes, as promptly led to baptism. 
Also I have stood with the rest in our little 
graveyard when some old neighbor has been 
laid to rest. I share with the rest the memory 
of kind old hands grown motionless, and chir- 
rupy old voices now stilled; so that some of 

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My Little Town 

these graves, turning slowly from raw soil to 
kindlier green, are mine, the stranger's. 

Because those newer graves are mine, I 
may linger in more assured friendliness among 
the older ones, for to me these brief white- 
portaled streets of this other Littleville are 
kindly too; so that I like to go a-calling here 
also, letting my fancy knock at these low 
green mounds beneath the mat of periwinkle, 
above which sometimes flash the blue wings 
of birds or of sailing butterfly, while just be- 
yond the fence the bobolinks go singing above 
the clover-fields. Country graveyards are 
pleasant places; at least ours has no gloom 
of tangled undergrowth and dank cypress 
shadow, for we are a house-wifely company, 
and we like all things well swept and ship- 
shape, even cemeteries. 

Even the tragedies the marbles tell are soft- 
ened now. There are many little gravestones 
in our cemetery, recording little lives long 
ago cut short. Many of them belong to that 
winter I have heard about, a winter long be- 
fore antitoxin or even disinfectants, when one 
Sunday in Littleville twenty children lay 
dead. It was sad then, but to-day to the tune 
of soaring bobolinks I must be thinking how 
gayly the little ones put on their winglets all 
together, and, a white flock, went trooping 
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My Little Town 

off, shepherded by angels. In a village grave- 
yard where the dead lie so cozily close to 
home, in a graveyard so blue above and green 
below, one has to remember how many things 
are sadder than death. 

I come back from reverie as the 'bus bell 
goes tinkling by, beyond the white-arched 
gate, and I rise to gaze to see who has come 
to us from the world, for the 'bus comes from 
the train, and the train comes from far away, 
where the world runs its whirligig, far from 
Littleville. 

The 'bus connects us with life. When one 
arrives at home, usually at nightfall, there 
always is the old 'bus man at the train step, 
peering up and stretching out both welcom- 
ing arms to receive our packages and bags. 
When he has stowed all away, in he climbs 
rheumatically, and off we trundle, rattling 
and wheezing along, for driver and horses and 
'bus are all in the last stages of decrepitude. 
The lantern hung between the shafts plays 
out its straight jet of light, but within it is 
so dark that I cannot guess our whereabouts 
until we draw up at the hotel. The hotel- 
keeper comes out in his shirt-sleeves to receive 
the fat agents we have brought him, and, peer- 
ing hospitably into the dark recesses, gives me 
welcome too. Off and on we rumble, and as 

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My Little Tmvn 

we draw rein at the post-office, the post- 
master, shouldering the mail-bag, spies me 
and extends his hearty handshake; from the 
newspaper office near by, where the editor 
is working, comes a hazarded greeting, to 
which I respond cheerily from my dark hole, 
and become forthwith one of to-morrow's 
items. 

On and up the hill. I can just discern the 
white belfry against the blue-black sky. Be- 
yond the church is the rectory, and there a 
lantern on the step and a ruddy door flung 
wide. I have drawn up, returning, to rectory 
doors before, but somehow in Littleville it is 
different; to-morrow, on Sunday, Littleville 
will be glad I have come back, and will say 
so, at church, for in Littleville Sunday is dif- 
ferent, too. 

Here there is never the Sabbath stiffness 
of my childhood. Here the front pew does not 
straighten my spine intolerably. Rather I turn 
half about, run a careless arm along the pew- 
rail, and chat huskily with my rear neighbor 
until church begins, and even in service I may 
nod encouragement to the choir if they hap- 
pen to be brought to confusion in the Te 
Deum, or in the very sermon I may peep under 
some little flowered straw hat and get a de- 
lighted grin in response. When service is over 
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I shall be a long time getting to the door, 
having so many hands I want to shake, for 
we do not call my little town, Parish; we call 
it home. 



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I 



XXI 

(jenus Clericum 

WAS a ministerial child rather by birth 
than by conviction. To one born on the 
march there may come to be in the end a mys- 
tic home-sense in the loneliness of tents, but 
in the beginning the army child may perhaps 
have his own opinion of the rigors of camp life 
and prefer his morning snooze to the sum- 
mons of the bivouac. Analogously, the chil- 
dren of the clerical class may come into exist- 
ence with a leaning toward the world, the 
flesh, and the devil, and may long conceal, 
beneath an outward conformity and a due 
filial reticence, an infant resentment against 
the preoccupation of their parents with the 
salvation of souls. 

I think I speak for many ministerial chil- 
dren when I say that the attitude of my in- 
fancy toward its environment was mainly one 
of protest, broken by passionate upheavals of 
partisanship. Sometimes I sympathized with 
little neighbors who limped shamelessly 
through the catechism or went out of church 
before the sermon, but as often I longed to 
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shake them and thrust them, well-prodded, 
upon their duties. 

The mere external discipline of the church 
militant came easily to me because I was so 
early inured to it. It is back of my memory, 
but I have ascertained that it was at the age 
of two and under that I learned rigidity of 
muscle in the sanctuary, where I sat hold- 
ing immobile on the pew cushion legs too 
short to crook, while my fingers, in white cot- 
ton gloves, were extended in stiff separation 
each from each. The hat upon my head was 
in itself an early example of ministerial ad- 
justment to parochial issues. Two ladies who 
were rivals in missionary zeal had each been 
moved to present me with a hat. That 
neither hat suited either my face or my 
mother's taste was, of course, mere incident. 
The claims both of courtesy and of equity 
necessitated my wearing the hats in impar- 
tial regularity, on alternate Sundays. Thus 
before the beginnings of memory, and through 
the medium of a baby's hat, did I become ac- 
quainted with the potency, in our domestic 
concerns, of that great public called Parish. 

It must have been at about this period 
that I experienced one of my intermittent 
attacks of partisanship, desiring with my 
clear infant voice to rebuke the lukewarm re- 

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sponses of the congregation, and remodeling 
the unintelligible stretches of the Litany by 
the stentorian variation, "Lord have mercy 
upon us, miserable scissors!" The words of 
liturgy and hymn did not, however, long con- 
found me. I had the concentration of many 
a sanctuary hour to devote to their meaning, 
so that by six years old even the Trinity had 
become a term of crystalline comprehension. 
By this time, also, other ministerial baby- 
kins had come toddling into the march in my 
rear, to share with me the soberness and sep- 
aration of our calling. It was, on the whole, 
well disciplined, our little army corps, al- 
though we recognized the latent twinkle in 
the eyes of the mother who generated us with 
a clever balancing of motive between our 
well-being and that of the Parish. Both she 
and we were occasionally flabbergasted, some- 
times by our public performance of private 
virtues, sometimes by our private perform- 
ance of public ones. For example, at the home 
table we were always exhorted to conscien- 
tious chewing; it did not, therefore, occur to us 
to accelerate the process at a Sunday-School 
picnic. The sylvan board had long been de- 
serted by others, but we, the Rector's chil- 
dren, a faithful little line, longing to be on 
the merry-go-round, in the swings, on the 
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boats, still sat and dutifully chewed and 
chewed and chewed. I vividly recall the be- 
wildering onslaught of our mother leading a 
bevy of church ladies in search of the missing. 
Ignominiously were we whirled oiF to join the 
sports of less seeming-famished companions. 

On the other hand, in public, in the Sun- 
day School, were we early made to under- 
stand that all the law and the prophets hung 
upon the catechism; a pink-paper catechism, 
frank in its woodcuts and facile in its expla- 
nation of the mysteries of the sacraments. 
Since this pink catechism was a lamp unto our 
feet, we suggested, during a thrilling burglar 
epidemic, that copies be left on the thresholds 
of rectory bedchambers. The burglar would 
pause to read, and there would ensue his im- 
mediate conversion and our resultant security. 
The parental laughter at our expense shook 
the foundations of our faith. 

Such a severe consistency of behavior in 
regard to the lessons taught in the rectory 
and those taught in the sanctuary is a state 
of mind early outgrown by any intelligent 
ministerial child. Such crudity of conduct was 
a stage in the march that we had all passed 
by the age of ten. By that time we had an 
unerring sense of what was due to the Parish 
and what was due to ourselves, with the result 

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that our outward conformity was about 
balanced by our inward misanthropy at hav- 
ing to conform. We attended, muttering im- 
precations up to the very door, the infant 
missionary society that filched our Saturday 
afternoons, we tore up futile scraps of calico 
to jab them together again with accursed 
"over-and-over" stitches, we gazed at pic- 
tures in which splendid blanketed braves, or 
splendid unclothed Samoans, were seen to 
exchange romance for religion in the shape 
of conversion and white cottas. Our souls 
loathed patchwork and missions, but, on the 
other hand, how we thrilled to the righteous- 
ness of reward when the visiting missionary, 
male or female, became our own particular 
guest! The ecstasy as one flirted one's Sun- 
day flounces before the eyes of less favored 
neighbors because one was walking to church, 
holding the hand of a genuine Arctic arch- 
deacon! And then the Bishop's visits, when 
we were whisked into cubbyhole and closet 
out of our crowded nursery that it might be 
converted into a prophet's chamber! Which 
one of my schoolmates had ever passed the 
right reverend plate at supper? And the 
honor of the Bishop's petting afterwards! 
The episcopal lap, the high general's knee, is 
the prerogative of the captain's children only, 
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the same that never miss church and know 
all their collects. 

Slowly we grew accustomed to the pressure 
of the knapsack upon our shoulders, that 
weight of clerical example which did not bur- 
den our irresponsible playmates. We knew 
that the Minister's children were different. 
We did not want it to be so, but we began to 
see why it was so. True, we protested when 
our father would not pause to tell us stories or 
our mother stay at home from calls to play 
with dolls, yet in the silent thinking-places 
of our little hearts we began to divine the 
beauty of the midnight sick-watches, of the 
valiancy of Sunday-School labors, of the brave 
weariness of sewing societies, of the heaven- 
born patience with Parish bores. As we 
watched the sleeker parents of our school- 
mates, there dawned in us realization of what 
our parents had given up, and silent shame for 
our jealousy of their devotion. Few children 
are hurt by being shoved aside a little be- 
cause of an ideal. The hours when our par- 
ents played with us are still passing precious, 
but it is because of the other hours that there 
was born in us a shamefaced sense of the 
meaning of the banner under which we 
trudged. 

Isolation is the chief inconvenience of hav- 

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ing an ideal in the family. We were apart 
from other youngsters, partly because we 
knew it incumbent upon us to set them 
an example, since, early enough and sadly 
enough, we had acquired self-consciousness 
from the frank criticism of all our conduct 
made by any parishioner so minded, and 
partly were we cut off by the vow of poverty 
taken by our parents. Other families may 
look forward to easier times; no ministerial 
household has any such illusions. The tini- 
est child of the ministry knows that after 
forty the father will not receive a call; the 
veriest baby of us knows what happens to old 
ministers, because so many pitiful, decrepit 
old soldiers have from time to time found 
shelter in our tent. 

Yet the ministry is the best place in the 
world to learn that poverty is a nut that 
yields good meat if you crack it boldly. Well 
I remember an icy rectory which had but one 
register in the Arctic regions of the second 
story. At bedtime we would gather about 
this register to warm our toes. Each blanketed 
to the ears like a little Indian, we would dis- 
course as serenely and acutely as any school- 
men, of the nature of angels, for was not the 
whole realm of heaven and earth ours for the 
mere talking? Pinched and patched we might 
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be, but bold to meet penury with a conscious- 
ness of princely possessions. I did not so much 
think well of myself for this superiority to 
worldly comforts as I thought scorn of those 
who did not have it. Very early I had a con- 
tempt for a child who could not evolve a game 
from a clothespin or set a pageant moving 
forth from a box of buttons. I had a veritable 
snobbishness of disdain for a youngster who 
had to be amused. 

Necessarily one requires respect for inward 
resources when the only things one has ever 
had enough of are bread and butter and books. 
Every ministerial child breathes book-mad- 
ness and burns for an education. When at the 
age of five you have known your father to 
go without boots for a book, and then to 
caper like a weanling lamb on the volume's 
arrival, you have acquired something more 
potent than a mere conscientious respect for 
literature; rather you have learned to regard 
the book-world as a place of bacchanal lib- 
erty and delight forever open to you. I do not 
know whether it tended toward my humaniz- 
ing or against it that the dominant beings 
of my young imagination were Books, while 
those of my girl friends were Boys. 

There is nothing more effective than cleri- 
cal penury to teach one the cheapness of 

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dreams. The door of fantasy stands always 
open for the rectory household to enter, 
singly or together. I think every ministerial 
family cherishes that one dear dream of all 
unwilling gypsies. They always hope some- 
how, somewhere, sometime, to find a house 
that shall be a home. Do what you may, a 
rectory is always house, not home. It may 
always belong to some one else next month. 
If only it were worth while to plant perennials 
in our flower-beds! If only it were worth 
while to plant friendships to bear fruit in 
after years! Yet this last we can never help 
doing as we pass from parish to parish, being 
at heart most human of wanderers. It must 
be very beautiful to belong somewhere, to 
have, for instance, cousinships in the neighbor- 
hood. There are never any family parties in 
the ministry. There are never any gentle 
grandsires to come forth from their kindly 
crypts and give guarantee of our characters 
to the community. On each new camping- 
ground we stand, a huddled family group, 
completely dependent on our own efforts for 
introduction. 

These new-parish sensations tempt to gen- 
eralizations, for they are so alike, in town 
after town. The zest of a new call wears away 
even in one's infancy. Perhaps the captain 
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still expects to find his tents pitched in Ar- 
cady, but not so his family; we meet the Par- 
ish's reception acutely on our good behavior, 
exquisitely affable to all, but our inner motto 
is, "Watch out!" It is usually those parish- 
ioners who give us most effusive welcome who 
will be readiest to desire our godspeed. It is 
those who stand back and look us over who 
will be our firmest friends. We cannot resent 
their attitude because it is exactly our own. 
We, too, are looking them over. 

When we go into a new parish the first 
person we meet is some one who is n't there, 
namely, our predecessor, that thorn in the 
flesh of the most righteous saint and soldier. 
There is always a predecessor, and however . 
dead or distant, he is always there, in the 
hearts of the Parish, and quite frequently he 
is in their homes as well. However callous, 
however courteous one may endeavor to be, 
one cannot escape a slight sensation of stiffen- 
ing when parishioners want The Other One 
to marry or bury them. Think of the well- 
bred wrangle that sometimes occurs in settling 
the clerical rights to a corpse! In all my min- 
isterial experience I never knew a predeces- 
sor and a successor who loved each other. Yet 
I speak without bitterness, for one of the 
proudest and pleasantest sensations of our 

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ministry has been that of being a predecessor 
ourself. 

To an unwilling nomad there is nothing so 
monotonous as change, yet the very con- 
stancy of our march engenders an amazing 
ease of adjustment to each new environment. 
In our relations to people, we clericals learn an 
adaptability almost pathetically perfect. We 
succeed in being all things to all men by never 
being all ourselves to any man. Our affability 
is the armor that protects the inner sensitive 
personality. Perhaps we are naturally ex- 
pansive, but we early learn the perils of frank- 
ness, so that it comes about that along our 
pilgrimage we are friendly, but have few 
friends, those few, however, the tenderest, 
trustiest friends in the world, those few, rare 
spirits of a keenness and a kindness to pene- 
trate the steel-strong armor of ministerial 
reserve. Very young, we clerical sons and 
daughters learn to pass from millionaire tb 
laundress with no change of manner. The 
reason is not far to seek; we own senior 
warden and washerwoman as our parishioners, 
equally, because warden and washerwoman, 
equally, feel that they own us. With equal 
freedom the two censure or serve, love or 
bate, us. Recognizing the proprietory rights 
of each, we realize that each may be equally 
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our bane or our blessing. Yet our democracy 
goes deeper than all this. Half-hearted sol- 
diers we may often be, but we never doubt the 
sincerity of our flag. We had the luck to be 
born into the household of the consecrated, 
whether we wanted to be or not; we are 
genuinely democratic for the same reason 
that the apostles were. 

Perhaps there is another reason, and a 
wickeder one, why all men stand in our sight 
naked of all accidental social trappings; and 
that is that we know them all so well! I can- 
not determine how clearly the world may see 
into rectory windows, but certainly one sees 
pretty clearly from rectory windows. It is a 
heart-searching and heart-revealing relation, 
that of a parish to its parson. The com- 
pletely voluntary nature of all church effort 
and church organization affords an exhibition 
of idiosyncrasies not to be found in any other 
association. When I think of the crimes aq,d 
the crankiness sometimes committed in the 
name of religion, I thank Heaven that the 
effect of these in a ministerial household is 
more often amusement than cynicism. I was 
grown up before I realized that the ostensible 
purpose of a choir is to praise the Lord: in my 
youth I always thought of a choir solely as a 
means of perfecting a rector in patience. 

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But always there exists the other side in 
the parochial relation, the side not of bad- 
ness, but of beauty. Personally I perceive no 
stronger argument against the charge of pres- 
ent-day irreligion than the tribute of trust 
paid to any sincere minister. From my child- 
hood on I have seen it everywhere, the re- 
spect for consecration. Everywhere I have 
heard it, the belief in the man who believes, 
ring confident as the cry of the roadside beg- 
gar upon the Nazarene. 

Few people think it worth while to put on 
pretense with a clergyman; they rarely try to 
make him think them better than they are; 
yet he generally does think so. It is frequently 
the alertness to protect the captain against 
his own unworldliness that teaches his family 
their sanity and sureness of insight. This very 
insight may, however, make them poorer- 
spirited than their superior officer, craven and 
fain to capitulate. In a parish skirmish they 
are likely to be divided between hot loyalty to 
his cause and a vain hope that he won't think 
it necessary to fight. I can picture the prob- 
able domestic anxiety in the house of Cal- 
chas when in pursuit of his calling he found it 
necessary to stand up to the king of men, 
Agamemnon! 

Long campaigning is likely to make minis- 
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terial oflFspring lovers of peace, yet I believe 
I am not really unwilling to fight the Devil. 
The trouble is that we of the ministry so often 
fight him when he is n't there. I wish our 
young theologues could be taught the sound 
and shape of Satan. Frankly I arraign the 
theological seminary as a very poor military 
school. It sends forth a soldier who does not 
know so much as how to set up a tent, whose 
idea of the Enemy is a mediaeval bugaboo in 
a book. I would establish two new chairs in 
our seminaries, a chair of agriculture, rudi- 
mentary, perhaps, but sufficient to teach the 
difference between tares and wheat, which 
Nature, uninstructed in any isms, still ordains 
shall grow together unto the harvest; and a 
second chair, in common sense, to dispense 
instruction in human nature. The average 
theologue is deep-read in Hebrew Scripture, 
but ignorant of the A B C of the tongue 
in which is written the Bible of man's soul. 
Doctors may dispute the divine inspiration of 
the former, but who of us is infidel enough to 
dispute the divine inspiration of the latter? 
Perhaps the more reprehensible fault of the 
seminary is not so much deficiency in the 
matter of its teaching as deficiency in its 
maturity. No thinking person wishes to re- 
ceive his spiritual guidance from an unthink- 

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ing boy. I am constantly puzzled by the ill- 
logic of our ministerial preparation when I 
reflect that the foundation of its teaching is 
the fact that God Himself thought it neces- 
sary to be thirty years a man with men before 
He was ready to teach or to preach. 

Considering his inadequate equipment,, so 
inferior in the relation of means to end to 
that of the social worker, the average minister 
of to-day does better than his preparation de- 
serves. If he has devotion, devotion will, in 
the long run, counteract his blunders. People 
will put up with almost anything from a man 
so long as he's a man. There never was a 
time when respect for a clerical coat, as a coat, 
was less; there never was a time when rever- 
ence for the man within the coat, as a man, 
was greater. Because of this fact, we of the 
ministry who best know the seamy side of an 
ideal know also 'best its beauty. 

I was born beneath a banner I did not 
choose, but like many another ministerial 
child, I have grown from a mere external 
allegiance to a real one. I think the angel$ of 
birth were a little distraught when they 
dropped me in the tents of the righteous, but 
on the whole I am reconciled. I have traveled 
to and fro and far, but only the rectory tent is 
home, there alone exists the nomad's intense 
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family friendship which is a home's sole endur- 
ing furniture. I have wandered so far among 
other men and other manners and morals that 
sometimes our little band has seemed but a 
faint dot on the spaces of a universe un- 
dreamed of within the limitations of rectory 
walls. Wandering thus, I have questioned 
many things unquestioned in my childhood. 
Only ministerial children themselves can esti- 
mate how open they are to doubt's attacks. 
The very intensity of partisanship and narrow- 
ness of creed and practice in which they have 
been brought up are sources of danger, while, 
having always been nourished on the glory of 
the mind, they will always in their traveling 
gravitate to the places of intellect, only to find 
their little faith regarded there as one more 
soap-bubble to be tossed about. Accustomed 
at home to the old-fashioned unquestioning 
distinctions, the minister's son or daughter 
will discover that there no longer exists the 
old sharp fight between orthodoxy and heter- 
odoxy, because each side recognizes far too 
well a kinship in weakness and wistfulness. 
There was a time when to take a man's faith 
from him was a fair game, for it was his own 
affair to guard a castle aggressively inviting 
attack. Now even infidels are tob pitiful to 
steal another man's God. 

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It is not so simple an adjustment as perhaps 
it externally appears, the return to the tiny 
clerical camp whence once we issued forth to 
our education. Perhaps I have thrilled to the 
trumpets of larger armies, perhaps our little 
troop of skirmishers seems to me a sorry one 
now, and perhaps, darker treachery still, the 
hosts of Midian do not loom so big and black 
to me as of old, perhaps I have even made 
some charming friends among the Hittites 
and the Jebusites, but it is astonishing how, 
when I am back in the old conditions, the 
enemy's ranks resume their old color and pro- 
portion. 

When I am abroad I am no stickler for 
church attendance, yielding myself some- 
times to the call of a "heaven-kissing hill" 
or to the spell of woods sacredly serene; but 
at home I am accustomed by contagion to 
look darkly askance at Sunday picknickers 
or lazy stay-at-homes. They should come 
and hear my father preach ! Yet I myself 
feel God nearer on a hilltop than at the altar, 
and I own, as closest comrades and most in- 
spiring, men and women whose souls never 
bow in worship anywhere. They belong to 
another army, that army of social betterment 
which is so curiously blind to its own pillar 
of fire. My creed is to their minds a child's 
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lisping, they ask neither a God nor an im- 
mortality, they ask only that they may lift 
the burdened man upright. If we cannot 
worship, let us work, people say to-day, and 
do not dream that never before in history 
was there enough religion in the world to 
make theirs a plausible deduction. 

These my friends belong to the army of 
non-church-goers arraigned in the little vil- 
lage church where I kneel to say my prayers. 
It is very strange, they say to me, — these 
soldiers of an army grown far larger now than 
our thinning ranks, — very strange to me 
that you should need a religion; and I answer 
it is very strange to me that you cannot hear 
above the blackness of your hosting, your 
own prophet voices choiring a midnight mass 
to Heaven. 

There are divers ways of worship and I 
acknowledge that my own way, minister's 
daughter though I am, exemplary in exter- 
nals, is not always that which would appear 
best in accord with my bowed head and prac- 
ticed knees. There is much in your full-sized 
Anglican that is bigger than his Prayer Book, 
although I loyally hold that an inspired docu- 
ment of Christian common sense. Many a 
windy, rollingv thought comes to me when I 
am kneeling in secret rebellion at the abase* 

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ment of the Litany, irreverent, meseemeth, 
to the souls cast in God's image, but who am 
I that I should think scorn of any words by 
which people climb to Heaven? Suppose I 
should compose prayers for my father's con- 
gregation, think how bewildered the good 
people in our pews would become if they 
should find, writ out for their repeating, the 
calls of birds and the voices of winds, which 
I know would sing themselves into any 
prayer of my making. 

No, in its prayers and in its practice, I find 
myself ever turning quietly back to the faith 
of my fathers, that banner of my clan. Per- 
haps I may think its gold tarnished with 
medievalism, its silk worn very thin, but 
are not all banners merely the work of men's 
hands? And what matter of the ensign so 
long as it holds skyward? I, within the min- 
istry, may sometimes question our methods 
of warfare, thinking them valiant against 
obsolete bugaboos and oblivious of a more 
subtle Satan, but, doubtful how better to 
direct the age-old campaign, uncertain what 
newer weapons to endue, I would rather still 
be on the side of a blind and passionate ideal, 
for energies may sometimes be wasted, but 
ideals are never wasted. 

Perhaps I have sometimes thought to 
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join that other army, of man's social prog-, 
ress, a noble army the thunder of whose 
modern warfare rolls ever louder and louder 
through the land. But I a deserter from the 
thin, faint brigade that belongs to an older 
fashion? A deserter now, when, in our little 
rectory corps, I see the hands that grasp the 
sword growing weaker, and the hands that 
uphold the sword-bearer's growing frailer, 
and when, in eyes keen to pierce the Enemy's 
darkness, I read the growing peace prophetic 
of the battle over? Back to my place in the 
ranks, back beneath our tattered pennon! 
What better service have I craved? What 
braver banner? For on the ensigns of many 
creeds I have searched, after all, only for 
that one sure device which shines upon my 
fathers' faith. That device is a Face, even 
the face of the leader of all the host, and as 
on and on I follow the march of our minis- 
try,- 

" That one Face, far from vanish, rather grows, 
Or decomposes, but to recompose, 
Become my universe that feels and knows! " 



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XXII 

Some difficulties in *Doing without 
Eternity 

HAVE any of us noticed what a fairy- 
land we lost when we stopped believ- 
ing in eternity? There was a glamour and 
a glitter about that past playground of reli- 
gion which makes our present creed of sci- 
ence barren and chilly. If to-day we write 
the word Eternity in white chalk on a black- 
board, and gazing at it try to recall what it 
used to signify, we shall find this exercise of 
the spirit most joyous. The word reminds us 
how we used to slip away from hurry to 
bathe in a sea of timelessness, refreshing to 
every taut nerve. How we exulted and ex- 
panded in the belief that eternity would give 
us all that we could not get in the present, 
for that was what eternity was for! We 
should never again be sick or sad or bad. In 
eternity we should be no longer the puny 
spawn of monkeys, but beings good and great 
and glorious as angels. Eternity was full of 
shining light and serried ranks of singing 
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^Difficulties in *Doing without Eternity 

hosts. Majestic figures from the past walked 
its wondrous streets and we ourselves walked 
with them. There was the gleaming of a 
golden and immortal city, our home at last. 
There was even in our vision of eternity the 
presence of God. 

Such was the fairyland of faith where once 
we walked confidently. It is banned now 
even from our fancy as irrevocably as the 
elf-kingdom of the nursery. No one now be- 
lieves we live after we die; it is even deemed 
reprehensible to want to. Yet for those of 
us who formerly possessed eternity it is hard 
all at once to get used to doing without it. 
We agree with science that eternity should 
be abolished in the interests of an efficient 
spiritual life, and yet, without eternity, we 
sometimes ache with our abrupt adjustment 
to being merely mortal. Creeds and other 
comforts have a way of slipping away from 
us without our seeing. Time and again we 
can be found blindly struggling to adapt 
ourselves to some deficiency in our supply of 
beliefs without any clear conception of the 
nature of the hole or of our resources for 
either filling it or enduring it. The present 
age suffers all the awkwardness of being 
transitional. In a few decades babies will be 
born immune to any faith or fear in regard 

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'Difficulties in 'Doing without Eternity 

to the future, but meanwhile it is well to ex- 
amine closely our present difficulties in pass- 
ing from immortality to annihilation, and 
perhaps to discover a little help for hobble- 
dehoys. A transitional period should be a 
little patient with itself, for it suffers both 
the growings-pains of stretching to the de- 
mands of the future and the rheumatic 
twinges of belonging to a decaying past. 

The first difficulty of our adjustment has 
the nature of a growing-pain, being due to 
our still imperfect response to the commands 
of science, which bewilder our dullness by 
apparent contradiction. When science is all 
the time bidding us to batter down doors, 
it is confusing to. the mind to have science 
herself declare that death is the only door 
that opens nowhere. In every other depart- 
ment of research we are encouraged to the 
wildest flights of imagination and hypothe- 
sis. It is, therefore, increasingly difficult, 
as we become increasingly inured to scien- 
tific adventure, to stop short before the most 
provocative of all phenomena, the human 
spirit in its eventful cycle. Eternity seems 
the only thoroughly scientific explanation 
of soul. At a mere superficial reading each 
human life appears like a chapter from a 
serial rather than a complete volume or a 
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'Difficulties in *Doing without Eternity 

fugitive page tossed on the wind. The chance- 
blown paragraphs reveal so much that sug- 
gests a vigorously conceived plot, powerful 
characterization, dramatic incident, intense 
emotion, rich background, that it is almost 
impossible not to formulate a synopsis of 
preceding chapters, and to conjecture the 
denouement following the catastrophe of 
death. 

It is even at times hard to withstand the 
conviction that there must be an author. 
One could almost suspect him of breaking off 
at a crisis on purpose to make us eager for 
the next installment. The figure of speech 
may perhaps make clear to us the primary 
trouble of our being transitional, namely, the 
difficulty of being both scientific and un- 
scientific at the same time, for our instinct 
to understand and explain tends to destroy 
our pleasure even in the torn chapter we hold 
in hand; it is hard to work up a proper read- 
ing enthusiasm in the face of the positive 
assertion by science that there will be no 
" continued-in-our-next." 

The most cursory study of our bygone 
belief reveals at once other troubles for the 
present generation in trying too suddenly to 
get along without a future. We suffer from 
the working within us of old instincts and 

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superstitions not to be violently uprooted — 
rheumatic heritage of souls in process of 
transformation. While our reason admits 
that there is no valid excuse for being immor- 
tal and that our perverse hankering after 
such a condition argues us self-centered and 
self-important, all the same there is peril in 
too abruptly removing the props to personal 
prestige promised by the mythical joys of our 
lost fairyland. Our anticipated survival gave 
us a sense of superiority to the insects, pre- 
vented our being sensitive to the silent scof- 
fings of the roadside stones that so long 
outlast us. Evanescence tends also to under- 
mine our personal affections. It hardly seems 
worth while to be overfond of relative or 
friend whom a breath of wind may snuff out 
like a flame. Why should beings more brittle 
than beetles go about loving each other as 
if they were gods? Morally, human frailty 
was often subconsciously controlled by keep- 
ing ourselves fit for the society we expected 
ultimately to enter, that of saints and sages 
and perhaps of God Himself. 

The first effect of destroying all these ex- 
pectations is disastrous for people who were 
far more dependent on them than they 
dreamed, for, to tell the truth, eternity in 
the old days had so little apparent relation 
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to our daily conduct that the complete rejec- 
tion of the concept is like that of some bodily 
organ whose functioning is deemed negli- 
gible until it ceases. Our suffering is no less 
keen because we recognize it as purely evo- 
lutional and temporary. In a few genera- 
tions people will find as much inspiration in 
being finite as we used to find in being infin- 
ite. Meanwhile, for us who have the luck 
to be transitional there is perhaps a compro- 
mise. 

Apart from our personal pangs, the loss 
of eternity has had effects, social and politi- 
cal, that intensify bur private discomfort. 
Perhaps if our difficulties are clarified we may 
recognize how burdened we actually are, and 
be more willing to allow ourselves a make- 
shift leniency. Chief among the public phe- 
nomena directly traceable to the absence of 
eternity is the war. On a basis of strict mor- 
tality, war for aggrandizement becomes the 
only legitimate activity for person or nation. 
Reason shows that, since death ends all, 
material things are the only things worth 
getting, and even more clearly shows that, 
since human beings are as finite as mosqui- 
toes, they are no more worthy of preserva- 
tion. Germany is the most laudably logical 
nation in the world, but her logic has been a 

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little uncomfortable for the nations who are 
more sluggish in evolution, and who still cling 
to their retrogressive respect for spiritual 
valuations and to their obsolete reverence 
for the human soul. Of course, if Germany 
had not purified herself of all taint of faith 
in eternity, she might conceivably have 
waited for permeation in peace, instead of 
being in such a devil of a hurry to chop a way 
through for her culture. Doubtless, in the 
course of time other nations will attain Ger- 
many's serene heights of pure reason, but at 
present it is necessary frankly to admit that 
aggression, while our brains pronounce it a 
most rational pastime, is still for our im- 
aginations and sympathies one of the chief 
temporary discomforts of doing without 
eternity. 

Next to the war in importance of effect 
stands the high cost of living. Of course we 
all know that there is enough food for every- 
body to eat and enough money to pay for it, 
provided that nobody wants more food than 
he ought to eat, nor more money than he 
ought to spend. However, now that we know 
with absolute certainty that we die when we 
die, any man would be a fool if he did not 
try to eat as much and to spend as much as 
he possibly could. Food and money are the 
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'Difficulties in 'Doing without Eternity 

only fun the finite can have, and naturally 
the effort to get as much as possible of both 
sends prices soaring. Without penetrating 
too far into economic intricacies, one can 
connect the decline in value of the Apoca- 
lypse with the advance in value of eggs. The 
high cost of living is directly due to the high 
cost of dying; when dying costs annihilation, 
people have to work pretty hard to get a 
life's worth out of seventy years. 

Of causes of distress taken in order of popu- 
lar complaint, next to war and the high cost 
of living stands the new poetry. The rela- 
tion between imagism and immortality is so 
obvious as to be invisible. Granted that the 
aim of literature is to mirror life, the imagist 
insistence on aspect versus interpretation is 
inevitable, for plainly literature should not 
deal with meanings when life, being mortal, 
cannot have a meaning. Sensation alone 
is sufficiently ephemeral to be true to life, 
whereas a poem that attempts to express 
some significance beneath phenomena has a 
tendency to outlast its generation, and runs 
the risk of endurance, and of becoming, in 
some notable instances, even immortal, 
whereas such a reversion toward stability 
either in a poem or in a person shows each 
alike false to our faith in flux. 

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Those of us, however, who cannot all at 
once throw off the thrall of the poor old po- 
ets of our infancy must be content to go a 
bit slowly, trusting that our descendants will 
attain complete responsiveness to the po- 
etry of the evanescent. We perceive humbly 
enough how reactionary we are, but our ob- 
streperous instinct for explanation corrupts 
even our literary tenets so that with senile 
obstinacy we sometimes wonder whether, 
even from its own purely aesthetic point of 
view, the new poetry does not miss some- 
thing the older poetry possessed. Meaning, 
adroitly introduced into a poem, sometimes 
produced a pretty little art of its own, a 
blending of outer and inner attributes that 
had in itself a kind of grace. It is even more 
heterodox to question, in looking back, 
whether a poet's effort to explain was not 
stimulating to his imagination, making him 
actually see things more vividly in their 
external aspects by his very concentration 
on their inner qualities. Certainly no imagist 
poet, for all his preoccupation with picture, 
has ever produced as vivid descriptions as 
did Browning, a poet above all others avid 
for meanings. 

We of to-day may as well acknowledge 
first as last that our feet, set in infancy to 
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the pace of eternity, will never step lively 
enough for the present age. While depre- 
cating the breathlessness of keeping up with 
the contemporary, the most old-fashioned of 
us must admire its valiancy. We are not 
nearly so lazy as when we used to leave some 
of our development to be accomplished after 
the temporary set-back of death. Our own 
muscles are a bit stiff, however, and as we 
conscientiously whip them to the require- 
ments of high-speed pressure, we must com- 
fort ourselves with the thought that our pos- 
terity will be able to fly without experiencing 
any of our awkwardness. 

The spiritual leisure and lethargy resulting 
from a reliance on eternity to finish up what 
we could not get done on earth, obviously 
clogged the wheels of progress, which now 
can be everywhere seen whizzing along with- 
out any brakes. We open the advertising 
pages of any periodical, to find that speed is 
the dominant advantage offered with every 
commodity. Get-healthy-quick, get-learned- 
quick, get-rich-quick, are the headings under 
which most of our advertisements might be 
grouped. We are all familiar with the pho- 
tographed faces of the people who will show 
us how to reach a maximum of attainment in 
a minimum of time. The gentleman with the 

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arresting index finger leaps out at our lazi- 
ness to teach us how to be successful in ten 
lessons. Success is a word that could not 
even be defined before the abolishment of 
eternity, with the resultant denial of all cri- 
teria but the immediate. 

While haste is necessarily painful for our 
still imperfectly adjusted mentality in every 
department of life, we must allow for our 
being peculiarly sensitive to the changes it 
necessitates in the training of youth. In the 
old days when death graduated us into eter- 
nity, we had much more time to devote to 
education. There was in our early years an 
agreeable luxury in the pursuit of learning. 
We did not have to practice the rigid econ- 
omy of the correspondence school or of lan- 
guages by phonograph. As we look back, it 
seems as if minds were richer when they did 
not have to be so niggardly in the luggage 
they took for their journey. This is but the 
sentimental vaporing of the senile, for in 
our sane moments we perceive as clearly as 
does the most modern pedagogue that Greek 
and Latin are impedimenta to retard the boy 
of to-day in the race set before him, and we 
agree with the publisher-purveyors to youth 
that the compendia of useful knowledge fur- 
nished by them offer the handiest possible 
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difficulties in 'Doing without Eternity 

canned nutriment for a period that has time 
only for acquisition, not for digestion. 

As regards the study of the classics, we did 
not at first perceive that to annul the future 
involved annulling the past, and yet, practi- 
cally, giving up eternity has undermined our 
interest in history. Conviction of mortality 
enjoins the conscience to concentrate on the 
contemporary so intensely that past events 
become obscure. Unless we have eternity be- 
fore us we really have no time to look behind. 
Yet some of us have a yearning for history 
that used to find satisfaction in fancying that 
our little age fitted into a sequence of ages. 
It contributed to a false but agreeable com- 
placency to gaze back into an endless past 
as it did to gaze forward into an endless future. 
Of course, abolishing eternity does not neces- 
sarily obliterate the past or explicitly forbid 
our going back there to visit; it merely makes 
to-day so important that we have no time 
whatever for yesterday. 

In this matter of educational adjustment, 
as in others, a transitional period suffers 
enough to permit itself a little humoring of its 
prejudices; we should not attach too much 
guilt to a surreptitious enjoyment of the 
ancients so long as we do not corrupt the 
youth of our acquaintance by teaching them 

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€ Djfficulties in 'Doing without Eternity 

any of our respect for antique art. So long as 
we are doing our conscientious best to free 
our boys and girls from the cumbersomeness 
of a classic education, we may feel that we 
have done our duty, and may indulge a secret 
delight in the dusty shelves that reveal to us 
the grace that was Greece and the glory that 
was Rome. It is all right so long as we don't 
let the children know, for that bygone beauty 
is strangely seductive and glamorous, and con- 
tact with it might sap their energy in pursuing 
fortune and fame and food, which should be 
the sole preoccupation of people appointed to 
die. 

Indisputably speed must be the desidera- 
tum of all activity, educational or other. Now 
the chief distress we older ones experience 
from speed is not that it leads to success, but 
that so often it leads nowhere. The old-fash- 
ioned custom of having a purpose in a pursuit 
makes it difficult for us to enjoy pure giddi- 
ness as heartily as do our younger contempo- 
raries. Haste, first introduced as a method of 
extracting from the temporary what eternity 
used to supply, has become an end in itself, so 
that a great many people ask nothing else of 
life but to feel themselves whizzing. Since 
nothing is permanent except impermanence, 
the one thing to do is to go spinning along, 
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cautious only to avoid bumping into a destina- 
tion. As a consequence of trying to catch up in 
one lifetime with all the activity of eternity, 
we have acquired such exhilaration, such mo- 
mentum of energy, that there is nothing we 
are so afraid of as the impact of arriving some- 
where. The profession of flux as a creed neces- 
sitates the practice of flying as a habit. Yet 
with this very profession of faith I find I have 
arrived at a heresy. 

Now this heresy consists of the argument 
plainly approved by pure logic that if the pur- 
pose of speed is to get the most out of this life 
because there is no other, then no movement 
at all is exactly as rational as too much, and 
we have a perfect right to select any spot of 
our mental landscape that suits us and sit 
down on it, convinced that it is just as sensi- 
ble to get our money's worth out of life's little 
day by being stationary as by being giddy. 
On the principle that ephemeral beings have 
a right to any fun they can find is founded the 
advice to our age toward which this entire dis- 
cussion has been directed. Baldly stated, the 
proposal is this: the best way of doing with- 
out eternity is to pretend we don't have tol 
The suggestion is frankly so absurd that any 
reader is permitted to smile at it as freely as 
does the writer. We have lost eternity and we 

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difficulties in 'Doing without Eternity 

can't bring it back by pretending it is still 
there. The point is that we don't want to 
bring it back, but We do want to discover some 
way of being comfortable without it. Believ- 
ing that there is no eternity, but living as if 
there were, is not a process possible to all per- 
sons, and is therefore urged only upon those 
capable of so separating their reason and their 
imagination that the two can function inde- 
pendently of each other. Many people are 
happily thus constituted, and still more can 
become so if they try. There is, moreover, no 
real sin in the course, because we are rather 
true to our imaginations than false to our con- 
victions, and, besides, we do no proselyting; 
we merely allow our own fancy the refresh- 
ment of revisiting our lost fairyland. 

The chief obstacle to the compromise is 
that its absurdity is exactly balanced by its 
efficacy; in other words, you can't tell how 
good it will feel until you try it, and if you are 
an over-rational and over-conscientious per- 
son you will think it beneath your dignity to 
try it. Yet actually there is nothing that con- 
tributes so much toward a sense of well-being 
as pretending, for a few minutes every day, — 
say just before getting up in the morning and 
just before going to sleep at night, — that 
you are going to live after you die. 
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'Difficulties in 'Doing without Eternity 

After a few weeks of this exercise, that em- 
barrassment we experience in the presence of 
nature becomes less painful, whereas, when 
we are too acutely conscious of mortality, we 
are shamed by an insensate oak, by a rock we 
could pound to powder for its silent sneer at 
our evanescence. If we make believe we are 
as good as they are, we can hold up our heads 
to the sky and the stars, and even venture to 
penetrate the social exclusiveness of the sky 
and the mountains. A man who pretends he is 
immortal is not so deafened by the cannon of 
the contemporary that he cannot hear the 
still, sweet voices of the little flowers. An 
association with the ancient aristocracy of 
sea and forest is good for a person, but it is 
almost impossible to feel at ease in this so- 
ciety unless we temporarily assume an equal- 
ity with it in permanence. 

This secret leniency toward our abandoned 
faith tends to enhance our joy in human com- 
radeship as well as in that of nature. In ac- 
tuality human affection is so menaced by fate 
as to resemble the surreptitious whispering 
in the schoolroom while the teacher's back is 
turned. When the loftiest spiritual converse 
may at any time be broken off by the malev- 
olence of a molecule called a germ, some of 
us would rather never love anybody as the 

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only means of getting even with being ephem- 
eral. On the other hand, if we can manage 
to simulate a sense of survival, and can pic- 
ture death as a mere voyage, we can enjoy 
comradeship up to the very last minute, and 
shout confident au revoirs even while the boat 
is pulling out to sea. 

A faith in a future secretly indulged is stim- 
ulating to mentality. If we assume for a few 
minutes even in jest that perhaps our life's 
chapter has a meaning, instantly our inge- 
nuity is off to invent other chapters past and 
future. Before we know it our minds are glow- 
ing as we discover some passage of grand and 
sustained style, or are tingling with the glori- 
ous guesswork of an entire synopsis. If we are 
gifted with any dramatic instinct, we are as 
likely as not, while we turn the pages, to 
find ourselves appropriating the hero's part, 
and bearing ourselves a bit more nobly, with 
a dim notion of being destined to still greater 
actions in the next installment. Pretending 
that perhaps after all our life has a meaning 
makes us acquit ourselves rather better than 
we otherwise should in the tragic episodes, 
and makes us enjoy the comic scenes with a 
twinkle kindled at imperishable fires. Even 
hazarded surmises about the creatorship of 
our life's romance sometimes give a sense of 
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difficulties in 'Doing without Eternity 

rest and relief not as yet afforded by the 
prevalent doctrine of pure flux. 

A little self-indulgence in eternity will not 
only enfranchise our conversation with our 
contemporaries and quicken our brains to 
decipher the book of humanity, but will tend 
to keep our minds, manners, and morals in 
trim for association with the great and good of 
all ages. We used to believe the halls of the 
dead were thronged with noble spirits toward 
whose wisdom and beauty our pilgrim feet 
would surely sometime find the way. This 
hope helped us to keep ourselves in order, 
much as the exiled Englishman restrains him- 
self from slumping by donning his dress-suit 
in the jungle solitude. Of course, when evolu- 
tion from the eternal to the ephemeral is fully 
accomplished, nobody will need any fillip to 
personal prestige, but for us poor intermedi- 
ates, painfully hobbledehoy, it is a secret 
education in noble manners to pretend to our- 
selves that some day we shall be called upon 
to meet Socrates or Buddha or Christ. 

Why not have a little patience with our- 
selves, we poor devils who have to bear all 
the brunt of the transition from eternity to 
evanescence? If we promise not to corrupt 
advancing youth, if we promise not even to 
corrupt our own reason by any genuine faith, 

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can't we safely play that our life's chapter is 
going to be continued? 

For, after all, what if there should be an 
Author? 



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